Should the idea of visiting a grand, old English stately home and idly strolling about its grounds appeal to you, then the borough of Hounslow – home too to the world-renowned Heathrow Airport, of course – could very much be the part of London to stay in on a visit to the capital.
With the pristine greenery of its parks, sumptuous spaces of open country and lovely riverside walks, the borough’s perfectly topped off by its welter of heritage attractions. To wit, there’s Osterley Park, an 18th Century house designed by legendary architect Robert Adam, which has featured a great deal on TV and film, most recently in the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises.
Worthy of mention too is Chiswick House, which was built by the third Earl of Burlington in 1728, its date of construction (and the prevailing architectural trends thereof) ensuring it’s an excellent example of a Palladian villa, reason indeed surely to consider visiting the house and its estate should you decide to stay nearby at one of the hotels in Hounslow, such as the Grand Park hotel Hounslow.
Meanwhile, Gunnersbury Park features another fantastic mansion dating from the 1700s, which was once owned by the exceedingly rich Rothschild family and, about which great novelist Daniel Defoe wrote following a 1742 visit: “from [its] Portico … you have an exceeding fine prospect of the County of Surrey, the river Thames … and a good prospect of London in clear weather”.
Another great estate in the area whose house was designed by Robert Adam in the second half of the 18th Century (and whose impressive grounds were designed by iconic landscapist Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown) is Syon House. With myriad Royal connections down through the centuries, it remains today the London residence – and genuine home – of the Duke of Northumberland.
A delightful Jacobean manor house that dates back all the way to the early 17th Century, Boston Manor is Hounslow’s only residence of the Elizabethan/ Stuart period, despite the area’s plethora of stately homes. Surrounded by 20 acres of land, Boston Manor’s also built up an enviable connection to Royalty throughout its history and features an esteemed collection of beautiful portraiture.
Finally, who could forget Hogarth’s House? Granted, this isn’t a stately home, but instead the one-time country retreat of the great English painter and satiric illustrator William Hogarth. It’s enormously well worth visiting, though, as today the Grade I-listed building functions as a museum dedicated to his life and work. As such, it’s been restored to resemble the home it would have been in Hogarth’s day and features a collection of prints of some of his most well-known works, such as the series of engravings that includes ‘The Harlot’s Progress’, ‘A Rake’s Progress’ and ‘Marriage à-la-mode’. All in all, unmissable then, surely?