Osterley House - National Trust
Mark Percy, (February 2000) geograph.org.uk on Wikimedia Commons
Travelling abroad, with all the associated security issues, and the rising cost of holidays is forcing us to explore our home territory.
As the recession hits hard the usual one or two-week holiday is being dropped in favour of the ″daycation″. Travelling abroad, with all the associated security issues, and the rising cost of holidays, is forcing many of us to explore our home territory. Indeed, research has shown that a ″daycation″ has several advantages over a fortnight's holiday, and people return to work refreshed after a day off, rather than in need of a holiday, having just had one!
Dotted around the UK are many historic sites, stately homes and gardens, cared for on behalf of the nation by the National Trust. The organisation undertakes the preservation of cultural, historic and/or architecturally important buildings and landscape gardens, keeping them open for the public to visit and enjoy.
In the London region alone there are many sites, such as Ham House and Garden, Thomas Carlyle's House, No. 2 Willow Road, Fenton House and Osterley Park and House. Within a short distance of the capital there are further treasures to explore including Basildon Park, Waddesdon Manor, Greys Court, Red House and Stowe Landscape Gardens.
National Trust Properties Within Greater London
- Carlyle's House – 24 Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London SW5 5HL.
The house of Thomas Carlyle, the well-known writer, has been preserved since 1895. The display explores the lives of the Victorian author, his wife Jane, and their very interesting circle of friends.
- Ham House and Garden – Ham Street, Ham, Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey TW10 7RS.
This 400-year-old property is located in a densely populated area of suburban London and was originally one of a number of grand villas and palaces built on the banks of the River Thames. The house has outstanding collections of textiles and furniture. Apart from the usual guided tours Ham offers a number of events for both children and adults. The 2011 programme includes live performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Pirates of Penzance and Wind in the Willows, as well as film evenings when Dirty Dancing and Singin' in the Rain will be shown.
- Fenton House – Hampstead Grove, Hampstead, London NW3 6SP.
Fenton House, a charming 17th-century merchant's house, has remained more or less unchanged for more than 300 years. The property was purchased by Lady Katherine Binning in 1936. She filled it with her personal collection of Oriental, European and English porcelain, fine Georgian furniture and 17th-century needlework.
Fenton House also features the Benton Fletcher Collection of keyboard instruments, and concerts and demonstrations take place regularly. The walled garden, which was well documented in 1756, is also unchanged with its topiary hedges, colourful mixed borders, and an apple orchard.
- 2 Willow Road – Hampstead, London NW3 1TH.
This is a Modernist house, designed in 1930 by the architect Erno Goldfinger. Many of the architectural features of the house were ground-breaking at the time, and still surprise visitors today. A display of Goldfinger's comprehensive collection of modern art, together with some of his personal possessions, fascinates visitors. There is also an exhibition of Goldfinger's designs for children. The visit will start with a video introduction to the house and the life of Erno Goldfinger.
- Osterley Park and House – Jersey Road, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7 4RB.
This magnificent house, designed in 1761 by leading 18thh-century architect Robert Adam, is surrounded by more than 350 acres of parks and farmland. The highlight of this National Trust property is a tour below stairs where visitors gain a valuable insight into the life of the servants of Osterley.
National Trust Properties in the South East
- Waddesdon Manor – Waddesdon, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP18 OJH.
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild built this Renaissance-style chateau to impress his friends and to show off his very fine art collection. Visitors can see 45 rooms, filled by Rothschild with the very best French furniture including a desk once used by Marie Antoinette, a comprehensive collection of Sèvres porcelain, and works of art including English portraits and works by Dutch Old Masters.
The Victorian garden, one of Britain's best, has a parterre, an aviary, several fountains and many beautiful statues. There is an exhibition of modern art on show in the new contemporary art gallery in the Stables.
- Greys Court – Rotherfield Greys, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 4PG.
The hills and valleys of the Chilterns form the backdrop for this 16th-century mansion. This is a real family home with that 'lived-in' feeling. The property was occupied by Lady Elizabeth Brunner and her husband from 1937 until her death in 2003.
During their time at Greys Court the Brunners created a delightful garden, reputed to be one of the most romantic gardens in the care of the National Trust. The walled gardens, set among medieval ruins, have a brick and grass maze, flowers, shrubs and vegetable plots. The focal point of this enchanted place is the Wisteria Arbour where, in early summer, visitors can enjoy a display of Wisteria sinensis. Grey Court is thought to be the most romantic property in the care of the National Trust.
- Red House – Red House Lane, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 8JF.
It is 150 years since the founding of Morris & Co., one of the most famous decorating businesses in British history. The company's founder, William Morris, also founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, commissioned Red House in 1860. The artist Edward Burne-Jones described the house as ″the beautifullest place on earth″. The house is not fully furnished, but does contain some original furniture and features by William Morris and Philip Webb, as well as stained glass and paintings by Burne-Jones.
- Basildon Park – Lower Basildon, Reading, Berkshire RG8 9NR.
Lord and Lady Illiffe restored this elegant Georgian property in the mid-1950s and filled it with textiles, paintings and furniture. During the summer of 2011 visitors to the house can see an exciting exhibition of vintage gowns. The display, Horrockses: Off the peg styles of the 40s and 50s, which features glamorous evening dresses and summery cotton frocks, will be on show from 11th June to 31st August 2011.
- Stowe Landscape Gardens – Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, MK18 5DQ.
This masterpiece of Georgian landscaping was created by a family so powerful that it was richer than the king of England. The 18th-century gardens feature more than 40 temples and monuments, lakes and valleys. The many trails and walks take visitors through an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Located within the Landscape Gardens is Stowe House, a Georgian property with beautiful neo-classical interiors. The house which is occupied by Stowe School is open to the public on about 100 days every year. The house is not administered by the National Trust and details of opening days should be checked with the Stowe House Preservation Trust.
These are just a few of the many fascinating places in and around London. Additional information about any of the Trust's properties, admission policies, opening times, special events and facilities, is available from the National Trust. Admission to all properties is free for members of the Trust.