National Trust Osterley Park

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A neo-classical house with Adam interiors, landscaped park and pleasure grounds. Osterley Park is a mansion set in a large park of the same name. It is now in the western suburbs of London, but when it was built it was in the country. It was one of a group of large houses close to London which served as country retreats for wealthy families, but were not true country houses on large agricultural estates. Other surviving country retreats of this type near London include Syon House and Chiswick House. The park is one of the largest open spaces in West London, though it is marred by the presence of the M4 motorway, which cuts across the middle of it.

The original building on this site was a manor house built for banker Sir Thomas Gresham in the sixteenth century. It is known that Queen Elizabeth visited twice, on one occasion suggesting that a hedge would be a good idea in a certain location. It was built overnight! The stable block from this period remains at Osterley Park.

Two hundred years later the manor house was falling into disrepair, when it came into the ownership of Sir Francis Child, a goldsmith turned banker, as a result of a mortgage default. In 1761 he employed Robert Adam, who was just emerging as one of the most fashionable architects in England, to remodel the house. The house of red brick with white stone details and is approximately square, with turrets in the four corners. Adam’s design, which incorporates some of the earlier structure, is highly unusual, and differs greatly in style from the original construction. One side is left almost open and is spanned by an ionic portico which is approached by a broad flight of steps and leads to a central courtyard, which is at piano nobile level.

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