Friday, 3 April 2015

Free Stuff to Do in Shepherd's Bush - Chiswick House

"Chiswick House" by Patche99z via Wikimedia Commons 
Yes, I know, Chiswick House is definitely not in Shepherd's Bush, but it's not that far away and it is situated in the middle of one of the most beautiful and least-visited parks in West London. Chiswick House itself is a stunning neo-Palladian mansion built in a visually harmonious classical style, a perfect example of 18th Century architectural and landscaping. The gardens surrounding the house are gorgeous; right now the camellias are in bloom, occupying the extensive greenhouses which have been recently been restored to their early 19th century glory.

"Ionic temple portico" by Chivalrick1 via Wikimedia Commons
You can tell Chiswick House worth a visit just by glancing at its extensive and much-edited Wikipedia page. It's very long, and has loads of pictures, which is always a good sign, and definitely good news for bloggers like me whose photography skills aren't that hot.

The park itself is full of leafy trails, improving statuary, and beautiful sight lines that lead the eye to the far distance. There is a huge fountain, a pond full of ducks, an impressive bridge from which to view it all, a ha-ha, a playground for kids, and a gorgeous Italian garden that almost no-one seems to visit, even in summer. Perfect for a quiet undisturbed picnic among the flowers.

Chiswick House Bridge by Patche99z via Wikimedia Commons
The house itself was built by Lord Burlington, and completed in 1729, when Chiswick was an entirely rural place and London a good distance away. Later it was owned by the Cavendish family, the Dukes of Devonshire, and the house hosted glamorous parties for Whig grandees, featuring giraffes and other exotic beasts.

Oddly, just like Lord Holland's House in Holland Park, and also the house at Ravenscourt Park, Chiswick House took a hit from a flying bomb in WW2, which demolished one of the wings of the house. So what you see today is what is left over - the bit the bombs didn't get.

William Kent's Cascade. by Patche99z via Wikimedia Commons 
Crucially, there is also a cafe, which serves superb coffee and perfectly decent (but not exciting) hot food. Our advice is to stick to the simple stuff, like the toasted sandwiches. It's buggy friendly, and if you need a changing table go directly to the Gents - the changer is clean and pristine and looks hardly used.

Blue Heron at Chiswick Park 
The only tricky bit is how to get there. It's not really very near a tube station, which is one reason for those near-deserted gardens. If you have a car, swing into the car park which runs just off the A4 as it goes past Hogarth's House from the Hogarth Roundabout. Otherwise try the 190 bus or head for Chiswick overground station - which is just near by.

The Bush Telegraph offers a personal view on life in Shepherd's Bush. Read about the Campaign to Save Hammersmith Park, find out about our new Farmer's Market, see what's on at The Bush Theatre, find out the latest news on the future of Shepherd's Bush Market, and the Council's plans to upgrade the Goldhawk Road and the Uxbridge Road. If you would like to contribute a story about our neighbourhood, email us at

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