Chiswick House

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Chiswick House is a Palladian villa situated in Burlington Lane, Chiswick, in the London Borough of Hounslow in England. Built during the reign of George II of Great Britain, it is today a Grade 1 listed building.

Chiswick House was inherited by Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, 4th Earl of Cork and Baron Clifford (1694–1753) on the death of his father, Charles Boyle, in 1704. The mansion was a medium sized Jacobean house and used as a summer retreat to get away from the heat of London in the same way as Marble Hill House, Strawberry Hill and Syon Park were used (the town house that the family frequented the rest of the year was Burlington House in Piccadily, today the Royal Academy). After a fire in the old Jacobean house in 1725 it is likely that the idea of building a Villa (house in the country) at Chiswick presented itself, yet this notion may already have been present in the mind of Lord Burlington since the time of his sojourn of Italy in 1719. Lord Burlington decided to build a new building, his 'Villa' to the west of Chiswick House which would be suitable to display his large collection of art[1] and furniture, much of which was purchased on his first 'Grand Tour' of Europe in 1714.[2] As accommodation was already provided in the old Jacobean house and stable block, there was little need for bedrooms in the new annex. Known as the "Apollo of the Arts" by Horace Walpole (1717–1797) because of his great patronage, the "architect earl" designed Chiswick Villa with the aid of William Kent (1685–1748) between 1726 and 1729. William Kent (who changed his name from ‘Cant’) also took a leading role in designing the gardens,[3] which are regarded as the earliest example of the 'English Landscape Garden': a mode of garden in which many aspects were deformalised whilst fostering a vision that harked back to the gardens of antiquity and adding 'variety' within the landscape.

Richard Boyle married Lady Dorothy Savile (1699–1758) on 21 March 1720 and their happy union produced three daughters. However, all three were to die before the age of twenty four. The last surviving daughter, Charlotte Boyle, married William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire,(1720–1764) and the house, Villa and gardens passed to the Cavendish family after Lady Burlington's death in her Bedchamber at Chiswick on 21 September 1758. The Villa was then occasionally used by the family, who had numerous other residences (they inherited Bolton Abbey, Londesborough in Yorkshire, and Lismore Castle in Ireland from the Boyles), and added two wings to the Villa to increase the amount of accommodation.

Built in 1788 by the architect John White, these wings were designed in a sympathetic style, but inimical to the concept of the property as a compact perfectly formed Villa, and were removed by the Ministry of Works in 1952. The Villa was saved from destruction by a public campaign and petitioning from the newly created Georgian Society who recognised the Villa's unique architectural heritage and its invaluable contribution to European architectural history.


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