Queen Victoria's Chiswick Connections To Be Explored

Opening event of Chiswick Book Festival will reveal that she was a regular visitor

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Viewers to ITV’s drama series Victoria may have been surprised to hear several references to Chiswick in the opening episodes. They can learn more about Queen Victoria’s connections with this part of London at the opening event of the Chiswick Book Festival, ‘Victoria in Fact & Fiction’.

This year's Chiswick Book Festival will be the biggest ever with eighty authors participating events from 15 September.

The writer of Victoria, Daisy Goodwin, and its historical adviser AN Wilson, will be speaking and taking questions at Chiswick House on the evening of Thursday September 15 th. It’s hoped that they will give more details about the ‘Chiswick Institute’, mentioned by Skerrett, Victoria’s junior dresser, as the place where she learned her skills.

There will also be an exhibition that evening, charting the Queen’s various Chiswick connections. The centrepiece will be a print of a large painting, ‘The Royal Garden Party at Chiswick’ by Louis William Desanges. It shows Queen Victoria with her family and 300 distinguished guests, each of whom is named in an accompanying key. It has not been displayed at Chiswick House for several years.

“Victoria visited Chiswick House at various stages of her life” says Torin Douglas, director of the Chiswick Book Festival. “While still a princess, she wrote in her diary about coming to the House – and later she was a regular visitor, when her eldest son the Prince of Wales was renting Chiswick House in the 1870s.”

The exhibition, ‘Victoria in Chiswick’, will also include extracts from Victoria’s diaries, cuttings from The Times and the Illustrated London News and analysis by local historians. Former Chiswick House archivists, Gillian Clegg and Pamela Bater, have unearthed fascinating facts, as has Carolyn Hammond, the former local studies archivist at Chiswick Library.

Historian Deborah Cadbury (Princes At War) lives in Chiswick and is writing a book about Victoria and her children, Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking.

She says: “The image of a Royal Garden Party at Chiswick House gives an evocative snapshot of the royal family at the peak of their power. The picture highlights Victoria’s remarkable position as Europe’s great matriarch. She had nine children and most of them made dynastic marriages into Europe’s royal houses.”

The exhibition opens at 6pm on Thursday September 15 2016, in the Burlington Pavilion at Chiswick House. Books and drinks will be on sale and the talk begins at 7pm. Tickets cost £10 in aid of reading charities and are on sale at the Festival website, where you can also read the full programme.

Since it started the Chiswick Book Festival has raised more than £50,000 for St Michael & All Angels Church, which hosts the Festival, and its chosen charities, which support reading and literacy. This year the Book Festival will continue to support RNIB Talking Books Service and Books for Children , InterAct Stroke Support and Doorstep Library.

The Festival is based at St Michael & All Angels Church and Parish Hall, with other events at Chiswick House; Arts Ed’s Webber Andrew Lloyd Foundation Theatre; the Tabard Theatre, Chiswick Library and Waterstones Chiswick, who run the on-site Festival bookshop.

September 5, 2016

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