Going to England? One of the best homes to see if you are a Regency fan is Osterley Park. Nestled in a rolling estate not far from central London, the house is a gorgeous example of Regency architecture and Georgian furniture.
|Caretaker's house inside main gate!|
Taking the Tube, you can easily get to the stop in a few minutes. Yes, it is a bit of a walk, perhaps a mile or two from the station, but the terrain is flat. (And the trek works off your eggs and banger for breakfast!) If you'd prefer a taxi, those are readily available on the street.
Nestled off the main road, the house and the grounds sit away from the bustle of traffic. The gate is lovely, the caretakers cottage, too. And then suddenly you are greeted by the four-legged inhabitants! These shown here are only a few of this working estate. Charolais cattle are the drawing card but the day we were here, they must have been on vacation.
That four-pillared entrance portico you see was designed (and added on to the house) by famed architect Robert Adams. Interesting because it does not cover the entire walkway to the front doors, it adds a Palladian charm and symmetry that makes the house grander than its more humble Tudor origins.
The walk around the pond with the house just in the midst of the trees!
Built by a Tudor financier, the house and grounds over the centuries became dilapidated. They were purchased in mid-18th century by Francis Child, a trader and banker. His intention was to keep the original footprint of the Elizabethan house and improve it with Adams' more contemporary sensibilities. Not only did Adam plan to improve the appearance of the outside of the house, but he redecorated the inside by deciding on each piece of furniture and ornamentation.
Those who owned the house were a family grown rich from their involvement in the East India Company and afterward in banking. The appointments in the house reflect that interest with a lot of Chinese porcelain of the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties, ivory carvings from India as well the yellow and jades colors well associated with those periods. The Long Gallery, where ladies could take their constitutionals on rainy or snowy days, showcases these family treasures.
Intriguing to see so well preserved is the bed in the State Bed Chamber which is more than 14 feet tall and almost 8 feet wide. Huge and canopied, the massive bed was meant for a visit by King George III who never visited. But the crown atop the carved canopy denotes the hope the monarch might arrive. The lavish appointments of linens and coverlet are lovely works of the period. The bill for this room, the bed and furnishings was so enormous, Robert Child ripped up the paper and never told anyone the final tally!
Up an elaborate green marbled staircase are more bedrooms and a library. Each is preserved in varying degrees with period furniture, draperies and fittings. The library is rather bare, because the contents (original works) were sold for profit and/or given to museums long ago. The music room on the main floor features a piano given to one of the ladies of the house. In the servants hall downstairs I suggest you take your time to look at each and every pot, pan, loooong wooden table, sinks for washing vegetables and a century-old oven. Next to that is the estate manager's office, large and dark and imperious. In all, the house inspires visions of who had walked here, what finery they wore, what dreams they dreamt.
One intriguing story is about the daughter of Robert Child. Sarah Anne wished to marry the 10th Earl of Westmorland, a known gambler and rake. When the man asked her father for her hand, Robert refused on grounds he was not worthy of her. Plus, he feared the man married her for her fortune. When the earl asked her father, What would you do if you loved a lady and her father refused you?
Robert replied, Why, run away with her, to be sure!
|Sarah Sophia Child Villiers|
Countess of Jersey(4 March 1785 – 26 January 1867