DiCamillo Companion
England

Chiswick House

  • Earlier Houses: There was an earlier Jacobean house owned by Wardour family that was demolished by Lord Burlington when the current house was built.

    House & Family History: Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (1695-1753), was one of England's "Earls of Creation" and the supreme arbiter of the arts in early 18th century Britain. He was an enthusiastic promoter of the Italian Renaissance architect Palladio and put his principles to work at Chiswick House (inspired by Palladio's 16th century La Rotonda near Vicenza), which Burlington himself designed between 1725 and 1729 (with a little help from William Kent) as an adjunct to an earlier house of circa 1717, which stood to the southeast of today's villa. Circa 1732-33 these two buildings were joined by a two-story link; in 1788 the older building was demolished by the 4th Duke of Devonshire, who also added wings to both sides of the current house; these wings were demolished 1956-57. (The 4th Duke came into ownership of Chiswick through his marriage to Lady Charlotte Boyle, the only child and heir of Lord Burlington. Lady Charlotte brought large estates to the Cavendish family: Lismore Castle in Co. Waterford, Londesborough Hall in Yorkshire, and Burlington House in London). The columns of the portico are copied from the ancient Temple of Jupiter Stator in Rome, while the stepped dome is based on the Roman Pantheon. The semi-circular Diocletian windows below the dome (also called thermal windows) are copied from windows in the Baths of Diocletian in the Eternal City. William Kent based his design for the Statue Gallery at Holkham Hall on the famous ruins of the Temple of Venus and Roma in Rome, a design element he also used at Chiswick House (it also makes an appearance at Spencer House). Chiswick is one of five houses built in Britain based on Palladio's famous 16th century Villa Rotonda (the others were Nuthall Temple, Nottinghamshire [demolished]; Mereworth Castle, Kent; Henbury Hall, Cheshire; and Foots Cray Place, Kent [demolished]). The 9th Duke of Devonshire sold Chiswick House to Brentford and Chiswick Council in 1929. In January 2007 Simon Thurley, then chief executive of English Heritage (the organization who then managed Chiswick House) made public his theory that Chiswick House was very possibly built as a Masonic temple. Chiswick contains much Masonic iconography; however, this symbolism remained unproved until the 2007 discovery, when archeological excavations on the grounds of Chiswick revealed a pipe with Masonic symbols. The discovery of this pipe adds further evidence that the strange house at Chiswick (famously called by Lord Hervey "too small to live in and too large to hang to a watch") may have been built for other purposes. Dr. Thurley has also suggested that Lord Burlington may have been a closet Jacobite.

    Collections: A Corinthian column table designed by William Kent, 1727-32, for the Sculpture Gallery at Chiswick House is today in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (see photo in "Images" section). This wood table, carved in London, but with a Siena marble top, is one of the earliest documented pieces of Palladian furniture.

    Comments: Considered one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in the UK, Chiswick House was one of the first Palladian villas in Britain and is generally considered to be Lord Burlington's masterpiece.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The gateway for Chiswick House was designed by Inigo Jones in 1621 for another location; it was removed and rebuilt by Lord Burlington at Chiswick in 1738 (in 1897 the two sphinxes on the main gate were moved to Green Park during the celebrations of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and never returned). Lord Burlington also created the Circular Temple, the Pavilion, and the Orangery. The lake and ornamental water features are fed by the waters of Bollar Brook, a stream running from Acton to the River Thames. In 1966 The Beatles shot films for two of their songs -- "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" -- in the garden. The ashes of British actor, songwriter, and broadcaster Michael Flanders are scattered in the Chiswick garden. The private West Garden at Chatsworth has a pattern of box hedges taken from the architectural plan of Chiswick House; the garden was planted in 1960 and is one foot out of scale from the one at Chiswick.

  • Architect: William Kent

    Date: 1735
    Designed: Gardens and interior of Summer Parlour for 3rd Earl of Burlington

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    Architect: Charles Bridgeman

    Designed: Gardens for 3rd Earl of Burlington

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    Architect: Richard Boyle (Burlington)

    Date: Circa 1725-29
    Designed: House and Circular Temple

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    Architect: John White

    Date: 1788
    Designed: Wings for 5th Duke of Devonshire

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  • Vitruvius Britannicus: II, 1725, pl. 26 (earlier house). C. IVth. pls. 82, 83, 1739.

    John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: 2.S. Vol. V, 1829.

    Country Life: XLIII, 130 plan, 160, 1918. LX, 308, 1926. CII, 126, 1947. CXXIV, 228, 1958. CLXIII, 624, 1978.

  • Title: Spencer House: Chronicle of a Great London Mansion
    Author: Friedman, Joseph
    Year Published: 1993
    Reference: pg. 102
    Publisher: London: Zwemmer
    ISBN: 0302006176
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Heritage Today (magazine)
    Author: NA
    Year Published: NA
    Reference: Sep 2003, pg. 9; Nov 2004, pg. 9
    Publisher: London: English Heritage
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Magazine

    Title: Chiswick House and Gardens Guidebook
    Author: Hewlings, Richard
    Year Published: 1998
    Reference: pg. 3
    Publisher: London: English Heritage
    ISBN: 185074226X
    Book Type: Light Softback

    Title: British Galleries, 1500-1900, A Guide Book, The
    Author: Winch, Dinah
    Year Published: 2001
    Publisher: London: Victoria & Albert Museum
    ISBN: 1851773622
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Follies, Grottoes and Garden Buildings
    Author: Headley, Gwyn; Meulenkamp, Wim
    Year Published: 1999
    Publisher: London: Aurum Press Ltd.
    ISBN: 1854106252
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 584
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade I

  • "The Servant" (1963). "Civilisation" (1969 - BBC TV series, episode 10, "The Smile of Reason"). "Inspector Lynley Mysteries" (2003 - TV series). "Eroica" (2003 - TV movie). "Days That Shook the World" (2003 - TV-Series, as the Vatican in a docu-drama on Galileo). "Vanity Fair" (2004 - gardens only). "De-Lovely" (2004). "Miss Marple: 4.50 From Paddington" [aka "Marple: What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw"] (2004 - TV series, as grounds and mausoleum of Rutherford Hall). "Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour of Europe" (2009 - TV mini series).
  • Past Seat of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: Sir Edward Wardour, 17th century. Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset, 17th century. Charles Boyle, 3rd Viscount Dungarvan, late 17th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork, 1725-53. William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire, 19th century; Cavendish family here from 1758 until 1929. SEATED HERE AS TENANTS OF THE DUKES OF DEVONSHIRE: Harriet Elizabeth Georgiana Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland, 1867. Prince of Wales, 1870s. John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute, 1881-92.

    Current Ownership Type: Government

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction

    Ownership Details: Owned by Hounslow Council; since 20015, managed by Chiswick House and Gardens Trust.

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 02031-413-350

    Email: info@chgt.org.uk

    Website: http://chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No