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Osterley Park (Osterley House)

  • Built / Designed For: Sir Thomas Gresham

    House & Family History: Osterley Park began life as a mid-16th century manor house built for Sir Thomas Gresham, a famous banker and founder of the Royal Exchange. Sir Thomas purchased the manor of Osterley in 1562 and completed his stately Tudor brick house in 1576. So successful and rich was Sir Thomas that the queen herself, Elizabeth I, visited him at Osterley. Two hundred years later, with the great house crumbling, its defaulted mortgage came into the possession of Sir Francis Child, lord mayor of London, jeweler to King William III, and proprietor of the banking house of Child & Co. It was the Childs who, beginning in 1761, employed Robert Adam, over a period of 20 years, to remodel the house. Adam’s spectacular interiors at Osterley created a palace of Neoclassicism that is one of the most complete examples of the architect’s oeuvre. Amazingly, Osterley Park today contains all of Adam’s original decoration and furnishings. The library is famous for its panels painted by Antonio Zucchi, while the 130-foot-long gallery is famed for its Beauvais tapestries. The tapestry room contains the Gobelins tapestries woven especially for it in 1775. The state bedroom contains one of Adam's most ebullient creations -- the domed state bed, circa 1776, conceived as a temple of Venus. The massive eight-poster bed was based on Robert Wood's engraving of the 1st century Temple of the Sun, published in his book "Ruins of Baalbek" (modern day Lebanon), published in 1757 (see engraving of the Temple of Baalbek in the "Images" section). The famous Etruscan Room contains one of the earliest designs in the fashion, which later became popular among Britain's aristocracy. The banking house of Child & Co. was founded in London the 1660s as goldsmiths; the firm was very successful and, over time, became one of the foremost banks in 18th and early 19th century Britain. Their bank in Fleet Street was extremely conservative in its activities (so conservative, in fact, that, unlike most Victorian banks, it refused to pay interest on money held on deposit by its customers) and is believed to have been the model for Tellson's Bank in Charles Dickens's "A Tale of Two Cities" (see engraving of Child's Bank in the "Images" section). The bank remained a going concern until the early 20th century, when the wave of consolidations in the British banking industry made Child & Co. less able to compete. Thus, in 1924, following the death of the 8th Earl of Jersey, Child & Co. was sold to Glyn, Mills & Co., an important banking house in the City of London; the sale was made primarily to meet heavy death duties due on the earl's estate (at his death in 1782, Richard Child left his fortune to his daughter's eldest daughter, Lady Sarah Sophia Fane, who married George Child-Villiers, 5th Earl of Jersey, in 1804, which is how the earls of Jersey came to own Child & Co.). Williams Deacon's Bank acquired Glyn's in 1939 (both were later taken over by the Royal Bank of Scotland) and was known as Williams & Glyn's Bank from 1970 until 1985. The beginning of World War II brought a period of change for the bank: in central London the risk of bombing was great; thus, in 1939 the Jersey family offered evacuation facilities for Child & Co. at Osterley. During the war huts were built in the park to accommodate the main banking departments; only the cashiers and one senior member of staff remained in Fleet Street. Regardless of who has owned it, Child & Co. has always been maintained as a separate business with its own identity, which it continues today at the mark of the marigold at its famous headquarters at No. 1 Fleet Street. You can see a mid-19th century engraving of the Child & Co. office on Fleet Street next to the Temple Bar in the "Images" section.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The Osterley Estate is one of the few remaining superior landscape parks in the suburbs of London. The Adam family designed the entrance lodges, the bridge, and garden houses, all set in extensive park and farmland, complete with pleasure grounds. The fine 16th century stables survive largely intact and are still in use.

  • Architect: Adam Family

    Designed: Entrance lodges, bridge, garden houses.

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    Architect: Robert Adam

    Date: 1761-77
    Designed: Remodeled House for Robert Child

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  • John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: 2.S. Vol. I, p. 211, 1854.

    Country Life: LX, 782, 818 plan, 858, 907 [Pictures], 938 [Furniture], 972 [Furniture], 1926. LXXXV, 579, 1939. LXXXVI, 8 [Furniture], 1939. XCIX, 440, 1946. CXLVII, 1164 [Furniture], 1258 [Furniture], 1970.

  • Title: Osterley Park House - 1985
    Author: Hardy, John; Tomlin, Maurice
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pgs. 17, 21, 25,
    Publisher: London: Victoria and Albert Museum
    ISBN: 0948107146
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: National Trust Magazine, The
    Author: NA
    Year Published: NA
    Reference: Spring 2003, pg. 8
    Publisher: Swindon: The National Trust
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Magazine

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

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II*

  • "The Grass is Greener" (1960 - as the exterior of Lord and Lady Rhyall's house). "A Study in Terror" (1965 - aka "Fog"). "Billion Dollar Brain" (1967 - as General Midwinter's house). "Civilisation" (1969 - BBC TV mini series, episode 10, "The Fallacies of Hope"). "The Persuaders" (1972 - ITV TV series, episodes 19, "The Morning After" and 20 "Read and Destroy," as Lord Sinclair's home). "Master of Defense" (1990). "Mansfield Park" (1999). "The Forecourt Pimpernel" (2001 - TV). "Strange" (2003 - BBC TV series, episode 3, "Costa Burra," using the Stableyard, after digital enhancement, as the Central Courtyard). "Byron" (2003 - BBC TV series). "Erotica" (2003 - BBC TV, using the Entrance Hall, Staircase, and Kitchen). "Leonardo" (2003 - BBC TV, using the Servants' Hall as Leonardo's workroom). "Mary Seacole - The Real Angel of The Crimea" (2005 - BBC TV, using the Entrance Hall, Eating Room, and Portico). "Egypt" (2005 - BBC TV docudrama series, episode 6, "The Secrets of the Hieroglyphs," using the Long Gallery and Entrance Hall as the French palace offices). "Amazing Grace" (2006). "Cranford" (2007 - TV series, as Hanbury Court: the Long Gallery, the Greenhouse, and the exterior of Mr. Carter's office). "The Young Victoria" (2009 - as interiors of Buckingham Palace). "Great Expectations" (2011 - BBC TV mini series, as house where Bentley Drummle is breaking his horses). "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012 - as interiors of Wayne Manor). "Belle" (2013 - as interiors of Kenwood House). "Effie Gray" (2014). "Doctor Thorne" (2016 - Amazon TV series, the entrance hall was the Greshamsbury Park ballroom). "The Crown" (2019 - TV series, as interiors of Buckingham Palace). "The Secret Garden" (2020 - as the kitchen of Misselthwaite Manor). "Rebecca" (2020 - as interiors of London doctor's office). "Persuasion" (2022 - as the interior of the concert hall). "Bridgerton" (2024 - TV series, for the outdoor ball).
  • Past Seat / Home of: Sir Thomas Gresham, 16th century. Sir William Waller, 17th century. Nicholas Barbon, 17th century. Sir Robert Child, 18th century; George Francis Child-Villiers, 9th Earl of Jersey, 19th century.

    Current Ownership Type: The National Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 02082-325-050

    Fax: 02082-325-080

    Email: [email protected]

    Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No


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