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Grand Houses

* = houses that still exist

*AFTON HOUSE
The premises of the Chiswick Memorial Club since 1919, Afton House in Bourne Place is the only large detached house to remain of the many that once lined Chiswick High Road. Built c.1800 it was known as Falkland House in the 1850s when it was a school. Called Afton House by 1861 it continued as a school until 1887 when it became a laundry and remained as such until at least 1913. Derelict for many years it was purchased in 1919 by Dan Mason of the Chiswick Polish Company who gifted it as a club for ex-servicemen. The house’s substantial front garden disappeared when Bourne Place and the shops on the south side of the High Road were built.

*BEDFORD HOUSE/EYNHAM HOUSE, Chiswick Mall
Now two separate properties, this was built as one house by the Russell family, the earls (later dukes) of Bedford, in the middle of the 17th century. They moved here from Corney House. The house was given a Georgian-style pediment and windows in the 18th century when it might also have been split into two. Bedford House and Eynham House were owned by the Plukenett-Woodroffe family – who owned several houses on Chiswick Mall – until 1920. In the 1850s it was occupied by members of the Sich family who ran Chiswick’s Lamb Brewery. The Sich’s sold their lease on the house, along with their brewery to the Isleworth Brewery in 1920. Two years later the Isleworth Brewery conveyed the brewery buildings and Bedford House to Fuller’s Brewery. The house was than bought outright by Warwick Draper a barrister and the author of Chiswick. He tragically fell to his death from a balcony there in 1926 while inspecting a chimney fire. In 1945 Bedford House was bought by Sir Michael Redgrave who lived there with his family until 1954.

*BEDFORD HOUSE, South Parade
Behind the shops at Bedford Corner is Bedford House, the central pediment of which has a fine Coade stone cartouche, its design representing ‘Allegories of Architecture’. Bedford House was one of three Georgian houses to the north of Acton Green built by John Bedford in 1793. Bedford, an upholsterer and furniture maker as well as a builder and perhaps amateur architect, had been born John Tubb but changed his name as a condition of inheriting from his clergyman uncle. Bedford House was occupied by botanist Dr John Lindley between 1836 and 1865. It was subsequently bought by a civil engineer, Hamilton Fulton, the father-in-law of Jonathan Carr, the developer of the Bedford Park estate, and its grounds were developed as part of the estate. A section of the house’s east side was sliced off when The Avenue was constructed and it lost its front garden when the shops that obscure its façade were built in 1924. The house itself has been converted into flats.

*THE BELFAIRS
This is No 19 Grove Park Gardens, the largest house in Grove Park. It was built in 1898 with its own coach house and rooms above. Between 1903 and 1940 it was the home of Olympic rower, Jack Beresford. There is now a plaque on the house to commemorate him.

*BOSTON HOUSE
This fine house in Chiswick Square (perhaps the smallest square in London) dates from the 1680s. It is said to be named for the Earl of Grantham (also Lord Boston) although he never appears to have lived in it. It was extended and refaced in the middle of the 18th century. In the early 19th century it was a school for girls and a plaque on its wall claims it as the setting for ‘Miss Pinkerton’s Academy’ in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, although this honour is also claimed by Walpole House where Thackeray himself was a pupil. In 1889 Boston House became St Veronica’s Retreat, a home for inebriate women. Between 1912 and 1921 this was run by the Sisters of Nazareth who renamed it Nazareth House. Between 1922 and 1972 the house was used as a staff canteen and recreation area by Chiswick Products Ltd, later Reckitt and Colman. The house was divided into four dwellings and in 1981-2 part of its grounds was sold off for the Boston Gardens housing development.

BRADMORE HOUSE
This large house on the east side of Chiswick Lane, built about 1730, was for about 30 years during the 18th century a school for boys run by Dr William Rose, a friend of Dr Johnson. It was known as Bradmore College when it was demolished in 1896 for the widening of Chiswick Lane.

*THE BROOK
This pretty house in Stamford Brook Road was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as a ‘rare detached Georgian cottage’. Set well back from the road, the Stamford brook stream flowed along its eastern side and this formed the boundary between Chiswick and Hammersmith. The main house dates to the late 17th century. It was timber framed, but bricked over by its occupier William Blackmore in the 18th century. It was purchased in 1878 by Thomas Hussey, a builder and brickmaker. Hussey developed some of the land and would have demolished the house to build on its site if he hadn’t lost an action brought by the Chiswick Local Board for the nuisance and smells caused by his burning bricks. In 1901 when the house and garden were in a ruinous state, Hussey let The Brook to Lucien and Esther Pissarro with the stipulation that they carried out immediate repairs. And it was here that Lucien produced the exquisite books printed by the Eragny Press. The Pissarros bought the house in 1919 on the death of Hussey and lived there for the rest of their lives. In the winter of 1945-6 part of the house was let to Sir Alec Guinness who remembered it as ‘being damned cold’.

CHISWICK HIGH ROAD
During the 17th and 18th centuries substantial houses were built along the High Road. On the north side were Bohemia House (formerly the Bohemia Head pub) which stood opposite the top of Chiswick Lane, Merton Lodge where Merton Avenue is now and Belmont House opposite the Barley Mow. On the south side was Thorncroft next to the Packhorse and Talbot, Annandale House, Sulhamstead House, between Annandale and Devonshire roads; Camden House, on the site of the present police station; Linden House where Linden Gardens is now; Bolton House, Afton House, the only house which still survives and the Grange near where is now Gunnersbury Station. Many of these large houses became private schools in the 19th century and most were demolished at the turn of the century or early in the 20th century.

*CHISWICK HOUSE AND GROUNDS
Chiswick House is one of the earliest and most important neo-Palladian villas in England. It was designed by its owner, the 3rd Earl of Burlington, with help from his friend and protégé, William Kent, and built between 1726 and 1729. Burlington, known as ‘the architect earl’, was influenced by the buildings of Classical Rome and the drawings of Andrea Palladio and Inigo Jones. The villa, though, was not intended as house to live in but as an adjunct to the larger Jacobean Chiswick House that stood next door. Burlington left no record of his intentions in building the villa, perhaps it was just somewhere to display his paintings and sculpture and to entertain company, or, as has been recently suggested, a Masonic temple. The ground floor is devoid of much decoration and connected to the upper floor only by narrow spiral staircases. Burlington had his library here, also probably offices and there may have been some bedrooms. Guests would have entered the villa by the outside staircase leading to the upper floor with its splendid octagon-domed hall, long gallery and six lavishly-decorated rooms of different geometric shapes. In the grounds, Burlington and Kent attempted to create the type of garden that would have been found in ancient Rome – lots of greenery and water, interspersed with statues and architecture. The elegant stone bridge replaced a wooden bridge in 1774 and the conservatory and Italian Garden were constructed after 1812 when the 6th Duke of Devonshire acquired Moreton Hall, the house next door. After Burlington’s death Chiswick House was inherited by the Dukes of Devonshire through the marriage of Burlington’s daughter to the 4th Duke. The 5th Duke and his charismatic wife, Georgiana, made the house a centre of Whig society and it was at Chiswick House that Charles James Fox died in 1806 while Foreign Secretary. The Duke demolished the Jacobean house in 1788 and added two wings to the villa to transform it into a proper country mansion. When The 6th Duke of Devonshire inherited the house in 1811 he bought more land, re-routed Burlington Lane further away from his property and constructed Duke’s Avenue as a private road to his mansion. Known as ‘the bachelor Duke’ he laid on lavish entertainments, attended by many distinguished visitors. These were no doubt enlivened by the presence of the Duke’s large menagerie of exotic animals which included elephants, kangaroos and emus. After his death, the house was inherited by his sister and then let out to tenants, including the future King Edward VII and to the Tuke family who ran a mental home at Chiswick House. In 1929 it was acquired by Middlesex County Council. The grounds were opened to the public and the house was given a ten-year restoration (the two wings were demolished). It opened to the public in 1958 and is now in the care of English Heritage; the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust manages the grounds.

COLLEGE HOUSE
This large stone building stood on the eastern corner of Chiswick Lane South where The Hollies, Suffolk House and Staithe House are today. When, in 1570, Dr Gabriel Goodman, the Prebend of Chiswick and Dean of Westminster, decided to use the Prebendal Manor House as a refuge for Westminster School ‘in times of sickness’ he ordered additional buildings to be put up to accommodate ‘the prebend, the master, the usher, forty boys and proper attendants…’ The kitchens of the medieval manor house were demolished and the stone was used for the new building, known by 1649 as College House. Westminster School was still using the building in 1664. In 1810 it became a girl’s boarding school and, in 1818, the home of Charles Whittingham’s Chiswick Press. After the Press left in 1852 it was leased out and used as a lecture hall until 1875 when it was demolished.

CORNEY HOUSE
This stood beside the river, west of St Nicholas Church, where the Corney Reach development is today. It was built on the marshy riverside sometime before 1542 when it was conveyed, in exchange for another property, by the Bishop of Rochester to John, Lord Russell who became the 1st Earl of Bedford. The Russells entertained Queen Elizabeth here in 1602. In 1659 Edward Russell sold the estate to one William Gomeldon. The original house was demolished sometime before 1705 and a new house and several tenements built. The house passed through several owners including Peregrine Widdrington who had married the widowed Duchess of Norfolk. She is listed as the rate payer between 1745 and 1754. By 1762 John Towneley was the rate payer and the house appears to have been extended. His widow was succeeded in 1798 by Sir Charles Rouse Boughton who carried out some improvements. In the early 19th century it was tenanted by George Earl Macartney, diplomat and Colonial Governor, who died there in 1806. After the death of his widow, the estate’s owner, George Germain, sold the estate in 1830 to the Duke of Devonshire who demolished the house in 1832.

DEVONHURST
Now the name of the complex containing the block of flats converted from the old Army and Navy Furniture Depository, Devonhurst was originally the name of a massive mansion in Duke’s Avenue. This was built in 1872 for Edmund Watts on what had been the arboretum planted by the Royal Horticultural Society. The arboretum was lost after 1870 when the RHS reduced its acreage in Chiswick. Devonhurst was demolished in 1904-5 and replaced by some of the houses in Foster Road.

GROVE HOUSE
This large house and its extensive grounds once covered most of what is now Grove Park. The grounds were developed for housing towards the end of the 19th century, but the house survived until 1928. Kinnaird Avenue was built on its site. A house is known to have been somewhere on this land as early as 1412 when there is a record of its sale to one Thomas Holgill. In 1540 it became the home of the Barker family who owned it for 200 years. John Bowack, writing in 1705, describes the house as a ‘spacious regular modern building…behind it gardens, said by some to be the finest in England’. The estate was sold in 1747 to Henry d’Auverquerque, Earl of Grantham and descended to his daughter. In 1772 its then owner Earl Cowper sold the freehold to the animal-loving MP, Humphry Morice, who added extensive offices, a large riding house and stables. He died in 1785 leaving his estate to Mrs Luther, a distant connection by marriage. In 1810 the estate was sold to the Rev Robert Lowth and in 1831 was purchased by the Duke of Devonshire who carried out extensive alterations, removing the top storey entirely. The Duke also developed much of the land for the Grove Park estate. In 1894 the house was rented to Lt Col Robert Shipway who bought it in 1897 and lived there until his death in 1928 when the house was demolished. There are rumours that Grove House was dismantled brick by brick and re-erected in the USA but this has never been substantiated. Daniel Lysons, writing in 1810 tells us that the paddock of Grove House ‘abounds with a great number of old walnut trees and Spanish chestnuts.’ A few of these ancient chestnuts still survive today.

HEATHFIELD HOUSE
This stood on the corner of Sutton Lane and Heathfield Terrace, where Chiswick Fire Station is today. There appears to have been a house on this site from 1659 which had a string of distinguished owners, including Viscount Dunkerman, the Earl of Kerry, Lord Egremont and the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. The house took its name from Lord Heathfield (1718-1790), famous as General George Augustus Eliott for defending Gibraltar against a near four-year siege by the Spaniards during his stint as Governor of Gibraltar. The house Heathfield purchased in 1789 was an Italianate two-storey building which had replaced the original 17th-century house and Lord Heathfield commissioned the botanist William Aiton, later George III’s gardener at Kew, to lay out the gardens. The house was demolished in 1837 and the vicarage for Christ Church built on the site. Heathfield House also boasted beautiful wrought iron gates and these can still be seen – they are the gates at the Piccadilly entrance to Green Park. When Heathfield House was demolished, the Duke of Devonshire bought the gates for Chiswick House but, in 1897, had them moved to his London property, Devonshire House in Piccadilly, and in 1921 they were bought for the nation and set up outside Green Park.

*HOGARTH HOUSE
William Hogarth was 52 years old and already an established artist in 1749 when he purchased a second home in Chiswick. Hogarth and his wife spent the greater part of each summer here in what he affectionately described as ‘his little country box’. Hogarth made several modifications to the house which had been built around 1715. The walled garden contained an avenue of filbert (hazelnut) trees, where Hogarth played ninepins, and an outbuilding which he used as a studio. The garden still contains the mulberry tree from the fruit of which Jane Hogarth made tarts for visiting children. The house passed through several later owners, becoming increasingly derelict. In 1901 it was purchased by Lt Col Robert Shipway who lived in nearby Grove House. Shipway restored it, furnished it with replica 18th century furniture and prints by Hogarth, and opened it as a Hogarth museum in 1904. In 1909 he conveyed it in trust to Middlesex County Council and it was transferred to the London Borough of Hounslow in 1965.

LONDON STYLE HOUSE
The house rented by the artist Johann Zoffany between 1764 and 1772. It stood on the southern corner of Wellesley Road and Chiswick High Road. It was replaced by a house called Stile Hall.

MANOR FARM HOUSE
This large mansion, demolished in 1896, stood in Chiswick Lane where Balfern Grove and adjoining roads are today. One of the garden walls of the house can still be seen on the right hand side of the passageway known as Manor Alley which runs from Devonshire Road to Chiswick Lane. The house was built in about 1698, supposedly by financial entrepreneur Sir Stephen Fox, although his well-preserved records make no mention of it. Perhaps Fox, who was also Lord of Chiswick’s Prebendal manor, intended it to be the manor house since the previous manor house on Chiswick Mall was demolished about 1710. Between c1786 and 1835 it was a boy’s school run by the Rev Thomas Horne and, between 1839 and 1892, a private mental asylum run by the Tuke family.

*MELBOURNE HOUSE
Melbourne House in South Parade was one of three Georgian houses built by John Bedford in 1793 and the only one to remain relatively unchanged, although a side extension has been added. It was the home of John Lindley from 1824 to 1836 when he moved to Bedford House next door.

MORETON HALL
This large and grand mansion stood next door to Chiswick House in Burlington Lane. It was built between 1682 and 1684 by architect Hugh May for the financial entrepreneur, Sir Stephen Fox at a cost of £7,117 4s 3d. It was a three-storey house with garrets and basements and a separate building to the west containing offices. Walled gardens were laid out behind the house and a large pedimented conservatory put up to its north. The house received many plaudits including one from William III who visited it in 1691. He is reputed to have paid what was for him a great compliment: ‘This place is perfectly fine. I could live here for five days’. Moreton Hall’s kitchen gardens are now the walled gardens of Chiswick House. After Fox’s death in 1716 his executors sold the mansion to the Countess of Northampton, the mother-in-law of Fox’s daughter Jane. The Countess’s youngest son, Spencer Compton (later Earl of Wilmington), an MP and Speaker of the House of Commons, inherited it on her death in 1719. It passed to his nephew James Compton, 5th Earl of Northampton in 1743 and to James Compton’s daughter Baroness Ferrers, the wife of George Townshend (later Marquis Townshend) in 1754. In 1758 the house was purchased by Sir John Heathcote Bart and was lived in by his daughter Bridget who was married to James Douglas, the 14th Earl of Morton. It was during this period that the house became known as Moreton Hall. The Morton family owned it by 1780 but in 1783 it was conveyed to a Robert Stevenson and in 1807 to Lady Mary Coke, famous as a diarist in Regency England. On her death in 1811 the mansion was put up for sale and bought in 1812 by the 6th Duke of Devonshire who promptly demolished it and incorporated the land into the grounds of Chiswick House. He laid out the Italian Gardens on its site and the large conservatory to the north. The wall and gateway that can be seen from the back windows of Chiswick House conservatory, which mark the entrance to Sir Stephen Fox’s kitchen garden, are all that remains of Moreton Hall.

*STAMFORD BROOK HOUSE This attractive Georgian house in Stamford Brook Avenue was the first house of any size in Stamford Brook. It was built about 1743 by Thomas Patterson and between 1795 and about 1865 it was home to the Frere family. At the beginning of the 20th century it was owned by social work pioneers, Ellen and Archibald Grey Macgregor.

STILE HALL
This was the name of a large mansion that stood at the junction of Wellesley Road with Chiswick High Road. It was built in 1789, replacing a previous mansion known as London Style House which was rented by Johann Zoffany. Stile Hall was demolished in 1891 to make way for Stile Hall Gardens.

SUTTON COURT
Sutton manor was the larger of Chiswick’s two manors. It was first recorded in 1181 and known as Sutton Court by 1537. During the 14th and 15th centuries Sutton manor was held by the Crown. King Richard II built a house on Sutton manor in 1396. Records show that £928 12s 3d was spent on it, using timbers from the temporary parliament building in Westminster. The house stood within a moat and consisted of a hall, chapel, two chambers with two solars above and a cellar beneath. A medieval undercroft, almost certainly belonging to this house, was discovered in 1905 (at the time it was thought to be a Roman vault). Henry IV used the house and so did Henry V but he gave orders for it to be pulled down in 1415 and the building material taken elsewhere. However, a new house must have been erected shortly afterwards since Henry VI issued state papers from Chiswick between 1441 and 1443. The manor house, which stood on the corner of Sutton Court Road with Fauconberg Road, had a gatehouse, malthouse and farm buildings `all in decay’ in 1589 but in 1674 was described as `fit to receive a family of 40 or 50′, and in 1691, when it was home to Earl and Countess Fauconberg (she was the daughter of Oliver Cromwell), was noted for its gardens which contained a maze and a bowling green. The house was largely rebuilt about 1795 by an undertenant of the Duke of Devonshire, who was now its owner. In 1844 Frederick Tappenden was keeping a boarding school there and the house’s final function was as temporary council offices while Chiswick Town Hall was being enlarged in 1900. It was then demolished and in 1905 the large blocks of flats called Sutton Court built in its grounds.

SYDNEY HOUSE
The mansion flats known as Sydney House in Woodstock Road replace a large Georgian house of the same name. It was one of three built by John Bedford in 1793. Its last tenant was the Chiswick and Bedford Park High School which vacated it in 1898. The house was demolished in 1904 and the flats completed in 1906.

*THAMES BANK
This huge Tudor-style mansion was built in 1870, facing the river in Grove Park Road. It was the second largest private house in Chiswick when it was put up, Devonhurst being the largest. It was lived in initially by Thomas Wells, a locally-born hosier. Between 1931 and 1994 the house was the Redcliffe Missionary Training College. In the late 1990s it was incorporated into the development of 12 luxury homes known as Redcliffe Gardens.

TOWER HOUSE
Designed by R Norman Shaw for Jonathan Carr, developer of Bedford Park, it was built in 1875. It had 16 rooms and tennis and badminton courts in its grounds. The house was demolished in the 1930s and replaced by the block of flats called St Catherine’s Court.

*WALPOLE HOUSE
This, the finest house on Chiswick Mall, has features dating to the 16th and 17th centuries. The garden front dates to around 1700 and the riverfront and a north-west extension to c.1730. It is named after its former occupant, the Hon Thomas Walpole (1727-1803), an MP and nephew of Sir Robert Walpole, England’s first prime minister. Walpole and his family lived here from 1799 until his death. There is a marble monument to him and his eldest daughter in St Nicholas Church. The house is said to have been the last home of Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland and mistress of Charles II. Later, when it was run as a boarding house between 1785 and 1794, a famous lodger was Irish politician, Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) after whom Dublin’s O’Connell Street is named. At the time he was studying law at Lincoln’s Inn. In 1817 Walpole House was a school for young gentlemen, attended by William Makepeace Thackeray, and it is thought that Thackeray used Walpole House as the setting for Miss Pinkerton’s Seminary for Young Ladies in Vanity Fair. Between 1834 and 1841 it was a home and training establishment for homeless girls known as the Royal Victoria Asylum. In 1885 Walpole House was purchased by the shipbuilder, John Thornycroft and at the beginning of the 20th century it was home to actor manager Sir Beerbohm Tree.

WATCHFIELD
This large house at the top of Sutton Lane was first occupied in 1880 and demolished in 1934. It was replaced by the present blocks of flats known as Watchfield Court. The first occupants moved there in 1936.

*ZOFFANY HOUSE
One of the grandest houses at Strand-on-the-Green is No 65, the house known as Zoffany House. This was once the home of the German-born artist, Johann Zoffany, best known for his portraits and theatrical paintings. He rented it in 1789 and seven years later bought the copyhold, together with the adjacent properties Nos 66 to 69 which he rented out.