A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7, Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1982.
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The CHISWICK HOUSE estate, to which much neighbouring property was added in the early 19th century, was chiefly copyhold of the Prebend manor, (fn. 1) Chiswick House itself being enfranchised only in 1910. (fn. 2) The estate belonged in the early 17th century to Sir Edward Wardour, (fn. 3) son of Chideock Wardour and active in local affairs. (fn. 4) After Sir Edward had moved to Turret House, (fn. 5) his former house was apparently sold to James I's disgraced favourite Robert Carr, earl of Somerset (d. 1645), who paid church rates from 1624 and whose wife died at Chiswick in 1632. (fn. 6) Later owners were Philip Howard, earl of Pembroke, in 1638 and John Poulett, Lord Poulett (d. 1649), from 1639. (fn. 7) In 1651 Poulett's sons surrendered all their property in Chiswick to their mother Elizabeth, by then the wife of John Ashburnham. (fn. 8) It was bought by the king in 1664 for his son James, duke of Monmouth, (fn. 9) and by Charles, Lord Gerard (later earl of Macclesfield), in 1668. (fn. 10) By 1677 it had passed to Richard Jones, Viscount (later earl of) Ranelagh, and by 1682 to the Speaker Edward Seymour (later Sir Edward Seymour, Bt.), who sold it in 1682 to Lord Ranelagh's uncle Richard Boyle, earl of Burlington (d. 1698). (fn. 11)
Lord Burlington was succeeded by his grandson Charles Boyle (d. 1704), whose son Richard, statesman and patron of the arts, also leased Sutton Court manor (fn. 12) and died at Chiswick in 1753. (fn. 13) The earldom then became extinct and the property passed through the marriage of the last earl's daughter Charlotte Elizabeth, suo jure Baroness Clifford, to William Cavendish, marquess of Hartington and later duke of Devonshire (d. 1764). It descended to William Cavendish, duke of Devonshire (d. 1811), and to William George Spencer Cavendish, duke of Devonshire (d. 1858), (fn. 14) who acquired much neighbouring property, including the Corney House and Heathfield House estates, (fn. 15) and held 655 a., covering half of the parish, in 1847. (fn. 16) Although his successors sold many sites for suburban building, which was planned as early as 1867, (fn. 17) they remained Chiswick's chief landowners in the late 19th century. (fn. 18) Some 200 a. of riverside meadow were sold to the U.D.C. in 1923 by Victor Christian William Cavendish, duke of Devonshire (d. 1938), (fn. 19) leaving Chiswick House itself with c. 66 a. to be bought by Middlesex C.C., with smaller contributions from other local authorities and subscribers who included George V. The property was leased to Brentford and Chiswick U.D., which opened the grounds in 1929 as a public park. In disrepair before the Second World War, the house was transferred in 1948 to the Ministry of Works, together with the garden buildings and statuary. (fn. 20) Restoration of the main building began in 1948 and ended in 1958. (fn. 21) Both the house, maintained by the Department of the Environment, and the grounds, leased to Hounslow L.B., were open to the public in 1979.
The 17th-century mansion, assessed at 33 hearths in 1664, (fn. 22) was probably enlarged both by the earl of Burlington (d. 1698) and by his grandson (d. 1704), who added the stables later called the Grosvenor wing. (fn. 23) The 3rd earl (d. 1753) further altered the exterior, in the Palladian style, and built a summer parlour on the south-west side, a few years before building the villa which survives as Chiswick House. His new villa stood some 18 m. to the south-west beyond a 'link' building, which was connected with the summer parlour and the villa by low walls, the western (fn. 24) or garden fronts of all three structures being aligned. Apart from the twostoreyed Grosvenor wing, which survived until 1933, the old house was pulled down in 1788, when James Wyatt was employed to add twostoreyed north and south wings to the villa, in keeping with its style. His work was demolished in 1952, revealing the link building which had been engulfed by the north wing and allowing overall restoration to the original proportions.
The surviving Chiswick House was built between 1725 and 1729 as a temple of the arts rather than a residence, Lord Burlington continuing to live in his father's seat near by. Immediately celebrated for its architecture and setting, Burlington's villa won further fame after its enlargement by Wyatt, when it served as a country annexe of Devonshire House, which had become a centre of London society under Georgiana, duchess of Devonshire (d. 1806). Charles James Fox died at Chiswick House while foreign secretary in 1806 and George Canning while prime minister in 1827. (fn. 25) Tsar Alexander I and the king of Prussia were welcomed there in 1814, Queen Victoria in 1842, and Tsar Nicholas I and the king of Saxony in 1844. (fn. 26) Under the will of the duke of Devonshire (d. 1858) Chiswick House passed for life to his sister Harriet, dowager Countess Granville (d. 1862). (fn. 27) Although later dukes did not live there, it continued to have distinguished tenants: Harriet, duchess of Sutherland, in 1867, (fn. 28) the Prince of Wales, who entertained the Shah of Persia there in 1873 and whose children were often at Chiswick, (fn. 29) and the marquess of Bute by 1881. (fn. 30) Not until the end of Lord Bute's tenancy in 1892 were the duke of Devonshire's art treasures moved to Chatsworth (Derb.) and was Chiswick House leased as a private asylum by Dr. Thomas Seymour Tuke (d. 1917). (fn. 31) He was followed by his brother Dr. Charles Molesworth Tuke (d. 1925), whose widow remained there until 1929. (fn. 32)
Chiswick House, as restored, owes its outward appearance and its rigid internal plan to Lord Burlington, although much of the profuse interior decoration is by his close collaborator William Kent. It is modelled mainly on the 16thcentury Villa Capra near Vicenza, although less closely than England's other chief Palladian work at Mereworth Castle (Kent), designed in 1723 by Burlington's mentor Colin Campbell. The main, east, front, approached from Burlington Lane, has needed little repair, unlike the north and south elevations masked by Wyatt, which have been wholly reconstructed, and the resurrected link building and the summer parlour. In the 18th century the villa was not isolated, in that it stood close to Burlington Lane and had neighbouring houses to the north, in contrast to a treelined vista across the meadows south of the lane as far as the Thames. (fn. 33)
The main villa is almost square and of two storeys, the lower dressed in Portland stone and the upper one rendered, and is surmounted by a lead-covered octagonal dome, flanked on either side by 4 obelisk-shaped chimney stacks. From the main front projects a two-storeyed Corinthian portico, reached by a balustraded staircase which, like one on the western front, forms a Baroque deviation from Palladian severity. Similarly, Burlington departed from his models' symmetry in the arrangement of the rooms, although on both floors they surround an octagonal hall, the lower ones corresponding to the upper ones. On the ground floor the three compartments along the western front form an apsidal-ended library entered from the hall and from lobbies to the north and south. At the north-western corner of the library a doorway leads to the link building and summer parlour. On the upper and principal floor a passage leads from the portico to the octagonal dome saloon, hung with paintings returned from Chatsworth and richly decorated, the octagonal panels lining the dome being a repetition of Kent's device for the cupola room at Kensington Palace. Around the hall are six ornate rooms and, on the west side, a gallery with a central Venetian window opening on the garden staircase and, like the library beneath, an entrance to the link building. The vases in the windows and one of the statues in the apsidal end compartments are original; eight of the ceiling panels are by Kent, the ninth and central one having been ascribed to Veronese but perhaps being the work of an imitator, Sebastiano Ricci. Skilful gradations in the many elaborate features of the gallery make it 'an outstanding example of grand architecture in small compass'. Similar judgements have generally been made on the villa as a whole. Lord Hervey sneered at it as a useless miniature (fn. 34) but Pope, in admiration, dedicated the fourth of his Moral Essays to Lord Burlington (fn. 35) and Horace Walpole aspired only to make Strawberry Hill, like Chiswick, a model of its kind. (fn. 36)
Whereas Lord Burlington's architecture was an adaptation from the Italian, with few English parallels, Kent's garden opened a new chapter in the history of landscaping. (fn. 37) While still affording vistas along straight avenues, he laid out the intervening thickets with winding paths and curved the edges of the pieces of water to produce the first ambitious design in the style of the Picturesque. Despite later changes, the main axes can still be seen: a forecourt between Burlington Lane and the portico; a grand avenue to the north-east, continued north-west on the far side of the link building to a semicircular exedra; three straight walks radiating from the exedra through a wilderness, the westernmost leading to a bridge over the canal, whence radiated further walks; three more walks radiating from an obelisk in the south-west corner of the grounds, one to the bridge, one towards the villa, and the middle one to an Ionic temple, visible from the villa, and another obelisk in a pond within an amphitheatre.
A gateway given by Sir Hans Sloane was brought from Beaufort House, Chelsea, in 1738, when Pope celebrated its move, and installed north of the summer parlour, next to the 17thcentury mansion. Designed by Inigo Jones as a round-headed archway in rusticated masonry, it is linked by a wing-wall running west past the site of Lord Burlington's former orangery to the 18th-century deer-house, beyond which stands a Doric column once surmounted by a copy of the Venus de Medici. Other ornaments or buildings of Kent's time include statuary around the forecourt; urns and sphinxes in the avenue from the villa to the exedra; three Roman statues in the exedra; the rustic house at the end of the northernmost walk from the exedra; the southwestern obelisk, whose base contains a Roman tombstone, reputedly one of the Arundel marbles; the Ionic temple and second obelisk; and a rusticated cascade over the southern end of the canal, with a nearby rustic bridge. Pavilions terminating the other two avenues from the exedra, one of them Lord Burlington's first essay at Chiswick, have gone, as have two sheets of water with curving ends, which flanked the Ionic temple.
Changes were made by Capability Brown for Georgiana, duchess of Devonshire, who also had Kent's wooden bridge replaced by the existing stone one, designed in the Palladian style by Wyatt. After the acquisition of Lady Mary Coke's (formerly Sir Stephen Fox's) house to the north-east, (fn. 38) formal Italian gardens were laid out on its site, with a large greenhouse reputedly designed by Joseph Paxton, protégé of the duke of Devonshire (d. 1858). The same duke erected lodges and gates by Decimus Burton in 1835, (fn. 39) planted lime trees along Duke's Avenue, forming a drive from High Road to Chiswick House, and moved part of Burlington Lane farther south, extending the lake in place of the cascade. (fn. 40) Exotic trees and animals were displayed in the park, including an elephant, which in 1828 impressed Sir Walter Scott, and later some of England's first giraffes. (fn. 41) Wrought iron gates from Heathfield House were installed at the northern entrance in 1837 but removed to Devonshire House (London) c. 1897 and to Green Park in 1921. (fn. 42) Sales of surrounding land by the dukes in the late 19th century did not much affect the landscaped grounds, although part of the canal was drained for building (fn. 43) and by 1896 the houses of Paxton Road pressed close to the tree-lined drive. Trees in the south-west corner had been cleared to make the existing cricket field by 1915, when Park Road bordered the estate to the north. By 1935 Staveley Road formed the western boundary and there was a sports ground north-west of the conservatory. (fn. 44) Within those limits the local authority maintained the gardens and by 1979 had restored the main part to its original form.
The GROVE HOUSE estate originated in a tenement called the Grove, with lands in Sutton and Strand-on-the-Green. They were acquired from the feoffees of John atte Wode in 1412 by Thomas Holgill (fn. 45) and were possibly held by Robert atte Grove in 1352 (fn. 46) or Robert de Grava in 1202 x 1216. (fn. 47) William Holgill, described like Thomas Holgill as esquire, (fn. 48) occurred in 1458. (fn. 49) The Barkers perhaps held the land when they were first recorded at Chiswick, in 1537. (fn. 50) Anthony Barker leased Grove farm of c. 170 a. in socage from St. Paul's in 1597 and left an interest to Anne (d. 1607), widow of William Barker of Sonning (Berks.). Anne's son Thomas Barker of the Middle Temple (d. 1630) was active in parish government and apparently was succeeded at Chiswick not by his 17-year old eldest son William (fn. 51) but by a younger son, probably Thomas, a royalist killed at Lansdown in 1643. Thomas was followed by his brother Henry, (fn. 52) who was admitted to further copyholds of Sutton Court in 1655 and whose seat was called Grove House by 1664, when he ranked with Thomas Kendall as the second largest ratepayer after Sir Edward Nicholas. (fn. 53) Further lands were added by Henry (d. 1695), who owned much property in Berkshire, (fn. 54) and by his eldest son Scory Barker, also of the Middle Temple. (fn. 55) Scory's son Henry was admitted in 1714 and was the last Barker at Grove House, where he died in 1745. (fn. 56) Although Henry had sons, he left his Chiswick lands, copyhold of both Sutton Court and the Prebend manors, to trustees, who conveyed some to Henry Barker of Wallingford (Berks.) but sold others in 1761 and 1762 to the duke of Devonshire. (fn. 57)
Grove House itself was acquired before 1750 (fn. 58) by Henry d'Auverquerque, earl of Grantham (d. 1754), who was succeeded by his daughter Frances, wife of Col. William Eliott. (fn. 59) After the death of Lady Frances Eliott in 1772 the house and park were sold freehold (fn. 60) to the politician Humphry Morice (1723-85), who entertained Horace Walpole there in 1782. (fn. 61) Morice left the estate, known also as Chiswick Grove, (fn. 62) to Lavinia, widow of John Luther, on condition that she maintain an old servant and some stray animals. (fn. 63) Between 1807 and 1810 (fn. 64) it passed to Robert Lowth (d. 1822), canon of St. Paul's, (fn. 65) whose widow remained there in 1830. (fn. 66) Joseph Gurney lived there in 1855 (fn. 67) before its purchase in 1861 by the duke of Devonshire, (fn. 68) whose tenants included Robert Prowett in 1862 and 1867, Col. R. B. Mulliner in 1874 and 1882, (fn. 69) and Joseph Atkins Borsley by 1888. (fn. 70) Although much of the estate was built over to form Grove Park, (fn. 71) Lt.-Col. Robert William Shipway bought the house, with neighbouring lands, from Borsley and others in 1895, preserving it until after his death in 1928. (fn. 72)
Before the late 19th century Grove House stood by itself, slightly south of the existing Grove Park Road. (fn. 73) The mansion, assessed at 15 hearths in 1664, (fn. 74) had three storeys with a pedimented Ionic portico by 1792 (fn. 75) but was reduced to two storeys by the duke of Devonshire, perhaps to designs by Decimus Burton. (fn. 76) Alterations carried out for Lt.-Col. Shipway revealed thin bricks which had been rendered and much decoration of the early 18th century, (fn. 77) presumably relics of the 'regular modern building' known to Bowack. (fn. 78) The grounds, stretching southward and bordering the Thames, covered 84 a. c. 1775, of which 67 a. formed an enclosed park. (fn. 79) Praised by Bowack (fn. 80) and reputedly landscaped for the earl of Grantham, (fn. 81) they were later noted for their knolls and clumps of trees. (fn. 82)
The 18th-century CORNEY HOUSE estate derived from a house, with marshy riverside lands described as an island, which in 1542 was conveyed in exchange by the bishop of Rochester to John, Lord Russell, afterwards earl of Bedford (d. 1555). (fn. 83) The soldier Sir William Russell, a younger son of Francis, earl of Bedford (d. 1585), (fn. 84) entertained Elizabeth I there in 1602 (fn. 85) and in 1603 was created Lord Russell of Thornhaugh (Northants.). William's only son Francis (d. 1641), earl of Bedford from 1627, (fn. 86) spent much time at Chiswick, (fn. 87) where he ranked with the earl of Somerset and Lord Poulett as one of the three largest ratepayers. (fn. 88) The earl's youngest son Edward Russell, a creator of the harbour at Newhaven (Suss.), (fn. 89) sold his mansion to William Gomeldon or Gumbleton, (fn. 90) first mentioned in 1663-4, (fn. 91) and built or remodelled for himself the house in Chiswick Mall which became known as Bedford House. (fn. 92) An Act of 1667-8 after Edward's death authorized the sale of his remaining Chiswick property, (fn. 93) although Edward Russell, presumably his second son who was born at Chiswick and became earl of Orford, (fn. 94) remained a ratepayer in 1686-7. (fn. 95)
The Russells' old house apparently was rebuilt after its sale to Gomeldon (fn. 96) and eventually was bought from Robert Cary by the Hon. Peregrine Widdrington (d. 1748), a Jacobite who in 1733 married the widowed Maria, duchess of Norfolk (d. 1754). (fn. 97) Corney House was a district for the assessment of church rates in 1717-18. (fn. 98) Corney Houses constituted a group of copyhold tenements of Sutton Court, one of them the home of Samuel Richardson from 1736 to 1738 and added by Widdrington to the main property in 1745. (fn. 99) Widdrington left his Chiswick seat to his widow for life, with successive remainders to his nephews William Tempest Widdrington and John Towneley. (fn. 100) Catherine Leveson Gower in 1758 was admitted to the site of three tenements formerly called Corney House and Corney Close, which copyholds were conveyed by her heir in 1785 to John Towneley. (fn. 101) John and his son Peregrine Edward Towneley sold them in 1792 to Sir Charles Boughton-Rouse, Bt. (fn. 102) (later Rouse-Boughton). (fn. 103) Sir Charles added neighbouring plots and was described as of Corney House from 1796 to 1799. (fn. 104) Elizabeth, Viscountess Bateman, was at Corney House by 1802, when Sir Charles conveyed to her much of the land, (fn. 105) and left it on her death in 1803 to Lady Caroline Damer. (fn. 106) George, Earl Macartney, the diplomatist and colonial governor, died at Corney House in 1806 (fn. 107) as the tenant of Lady Caroline, who by will dated 1827 left a life interest to Countess Macartney, who died there in 1828. (fn. 108) The estate was sold in 1830 by Lady Caroline's heir George Germain to the duke of Devonshire, (fn. 109) who in 1832 demolished the house and added its grounds to his own. (fn. 110) Corney Lodge, presumably the south-west entrance lodge built by John Towneley, stood in Corney Lane in 1871 but was not so named in the 1890s and had disappeared by 1915. (fn. 111)
The late 18th-century Corney House stood close to the Thames, south-west of Chiswick village. (fn. 112) It was altered by James Gibbs in 1748, as Norfolk House, (fn. 113) and was a plain building of five bays, with tall windows, and three dormers. (fn. 114) William Combe thought it not large but elegant, after improvements by Sir Charles RouseBoughton, and that earlier owners had attended chiefly to the garden. A riverside terrace had been raised by the duchess of Norfolk, with an octagonal summerhouse built by Widdrington out of the demolished Corney Houses, and was unmatched for commanding a 'polished scene of rural beauty'. (fn. 115)
At Turnham Green the forerunner of HEATHFIELD HOUSE was held in 1695 by Susan, widow of Sir John Lort, bt. (d. 1673). The estate, copyhold of Sutton Court, passed in 1710 to her grandson John Campbell, (fn. 116) who in 1718 conveyed it to Henry Harrison, who in 1741 conveyed it to Mary, widow of his tenant Thomas Whetham. Mary, Whetham conveyed it in 1747 to James Petty, Viscount Dunkerron, who died there in 1750 and was succeeded by his infant cousin Francis FitzMaurice, earl of Kerry. (fn. 117) It was conveyed by Lord Kerry in 1762 to Matthew Hutton, by Matthew's brother James in 1765 to John Perceval, earl of Egmont (d. 1770), and by Egmont's trustee Sir Brownlow Cust, bt., in 1773 to Catherine, dowager duchess of Devonshire (d. 1777). The duchess's youngest son Lord John Cavendish sold it in 1789 to George Augustus Eliott, Lord Heathfield (d. 1790), (fn. 118) the defender of Gibraltar and a nephew of Col. William Eliott of Grove House. (fn. 119) The house was conveyed in 1792 by Francis Augustus, Lord Heathfield, to Alexander Mayersback, a London physician, and passed in 1796 to Mrs. Sarah Wildman and in 1825 to the Revd. Samuel Curteis and then to Robert How. How's trustees were admitted in 1833 and sold the unoccupied house in 1836 to John Rich and John Bertrand, who were licensed to demolish it. (fn. 120)
Heathfield House stood at the south-west corner of Turnham Green, where its site was later occupied in turn by Christ Church Vicarage and the fire station. (fn. 121) Part of the garden wall, which stretched along Sutton Lane, survived in 1897. (fn. 122) The botanist William Aiton laid out the grounds for Lord Heathfield, (fn. 123) whose house was an Italianate building: the main block of five bays contained two storeys, basement, and attics, with round-headed windows on the first floor and a pedimented porch, and was flanked by singlestoreyed wings. (fn. 124) After its demolition the fine wrought iron entrance gates were bought by the duke of Devonshire for Chiswick House. (fn. 125)