Lions Return To Chiswick House Grounds

Staveley Road Gates Regain Their Grandeur After 44 years

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One of London 's most celebrated examples of architecture and landscape celebrates 75 years of being open to the public this week.  Chiswick House and Grounds, in the heart of Chiswick, was opened to the public on July 4 1929 after being bought by the local council, then the Brentford and Chiswick Urban District Council.

To mark the anniversary two stone lions have been installed on the gate posts at the Staveley Road park entrance. The lions, which were brought to the site in 1892 when the Tuke family set up a lunatic asylum in Chiswick House, were unveiled by Cllrs John Chatt (Executive Member for Positive Regeneration) and Paul Lynch (Chair of the Chiswick Area Committee) at a ceremony on 5th July.

Brought from the 17th century ‘Manor House' on Chiswick Lane, which was demolished shortly afterwards, the lions stood for many years on the park gates at Duke's Avenue. When the A4 was widened in 1960, new gates were erected, and the lions were removed to the yard.

In 2003 a local volunteer, Colin Heath, joined the park's Goosefoot Volunteers and found the lioness in pieces, languishing in a corner.  He undertook to repair her, leading to the pair now being reunited to once more watch over the park.

Contributions towards the installation were received from the Chiswick House Friends, the Chiswick Area Committee, and the park's Restoration Fund.

The opening of the House and grounds allowed visitors to view the finest example of a Palladian Villa anywhere in England and admire the beautiful and historic grounds.

However it could all have been so different.  In 1929 the estate was a high-class lunatic asylum and was threatened with housing development.  An appeal by the local council raised £80,000 to buy the estate from the 9th Duke of Devonshire. £60,000 came from Middlesex County Council, with other donations coming from other local councils, companies, charities, residents and even £50 from King George V.

The house and grounds are still a popular destination today for Chiswick residents and tourists alike, and plans are in motion to ensure the estate continues to provide an oasis of calm amid the bustle of London .

A new trust, to manage the house and grounds together, is being developed by English Heritage and Hounslow Council and a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is currently being developed.

July 12, 2004