Riverside north of the river and west of the Tower. Syon Park
Post to the north Brentford
Post to the south Isleworth
This square covers most of the main area of the park and the house. It does not cover the area to the south and east nor a small strip of amenity buildings to the north.
The house and park belongs to the Dukes of Northumberland and is surrounded by high walls.
Syon – the nunnery. In the late middle ages the site was used a nunnery founded by Henry V in 1414, which moved to this site as a Bridgentine foundation. The new abbey was ready for occupation by 1431. In 1539 at the time of the dissolution Syon Abbey was the tenth wealthiest land owner in the country having many farms and manors – it had enjoyed royal favours. The site of the abbey and its many outbuildings has been located by archaeology south of the present house and between it and the river. The abbey was involved in Henry VIII’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon and meetings were arranged here. They were thus susceptible to suspicion and retribution. In 1535 Richard Reynolds and some others were executed. The Brigantines went as refugees to Belgium but Abbess Jordan has not surrendered the common seal of Syon and the Brigantine order, keeping part of the gateway where Reynold’s body had been exhibited.
Syon – the estate. Following the departure of the nuns the estate was Crown property and here Catherine Howard was confined before her execution in 1542. Under Edward VI the Duke of Somerset, the Lord Protector began to build a house which forms the basis of the present building. When he was executed in 1552 the property passed to John Dudley and at Syon Lady Jane Grey, married to his son, was formally offered the Crown. Followed by her and Dudley’s executions.
Syon – the Dukes of Northumberland. In 1594 Syon passed by marriage to Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland. He and his son built formal gardens around the house in the French style. In 1602 they were given the freehold. In 1605 the he was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot, and confined in the Tower for seventeen years, meanwhile refurbishing Syon. In 1642 before the Battle of Brentford there were skirmishes around the Park. Later the three younger royal children were kept here and were visited by Charles I while he was captive. There was also a conference here between the Parliamentary Army and others.
Syon House. This is a 16th house and various alterations have taken place. Inigo Jones is credited with having built an open loggia along the east front which probably dates from the late 17th. By the 18th a new generation undertook a complete redesign of Syon. Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in an early commission replaced the formal landscape with the open views and over twenty years incorporating farmland to the west and creating grounds to the north with new ornamental lakes. Inside the house Robert Adam created classical interiors, filled with antiquities from Italy. Unable to change the interior layout he used clever architectural devices to create the impression he wanted. Generally the whole house is full of expensive works of art and architectural features. In the 19th the 3rd Duke had the exterior clad in Bath stone and added a Porte Cochere. He also added kitchens and the Oak Passage. New stables were built as well as the Great Conservatory. The Percy Lion stands on the east range with his outstretched tail having been brought here from Northumberland House at Charing Cross after its demolition in 1874
Syon in the 20th. Syon was used as a hospital during the Great War. It remained however a private country estate surrounded by the city. The owners sought to cover maintenance costs through a process of commercialisation – opening the house and promoting festivals and features to bring the public in and provide an income.
The Great Conservatory. In the early 19th, glasshouses were small but as the century progressed technologies were developed to enlarge them dramatically. A commission was given to Charles Fowler, who specialised in large industrial buildings and who understood the new metalworking technologies. He created a building whose revolutionary structure was applied to a Palladian model. The Great Conservatory was filled with exotic plants from around the world. The building was restored in 1986/7 bur remains unheated
Riding School. This is now used as the garden centre. It was built between 1819-1826 for Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland. It includes a 28-bay iron roof of composite truss construction and it thought to be very early and was probably designed by Charles Fowler who later built the conservatory. The building reflects the revival of tightly controlled dressage at this time. There have been some alterations to accommodate the garden centre and also during the Great War when it was used as a hospital.
Stables. These were built in 1831 in yellow brick with a clock tower. It is now used as gift shop for the Garden Centre.
Garden Centre. This is run commercially. It was opened in 1968 by the Queen Mother and was it was a pioneer as the first 'garden centre' of its kind. It has been followed by many more. It has a large selection of English Roses. It includes a restaurant.
London Butterfly House. This was a site full of Free-flying tropical butterflies in a garden alongside displays of other exotic insects and spiders. It opened in 1981 and closed in 2007 because of plans to build a hotel
Garden. This was an early botanical garden laid out for the Duke of Somerset by William Turner in 1548, thus the mulberry bushes are the oldest in England. The garden had begun in the 1430s by the Brigantine Nuns who collected plants and trees for their garden and orchard.
Park. The Tudor terraces and walls were removed to create a more open landscape setting by 'Capability' Brown engaged by the 1st Duke of Northumberland. Brown turned the river into a feature lake placing it along the prehistoric bed of the Thames. Under the 3rd Duke the tree collecting was enhanced. There are more than 3,000 trees, 40 per cent of which exceed 100 years old and 187 of those are over 200 years old. There are 28 types of oak as well as maples, catalpas, swamp cypresses and big zclkovas. Exotic trees were brought from North America in the late 18th. In time new discoveries from the Himalayas and China were added to the collection.
Riverside. This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Tide Meadow consists of a tall wet grassland community of reed-grasses which grades into a drier semi-improved grassland and rough meadow-grass on the higher ground towards a ha-ha. Along the river bank which has remained natural is a fringe of damp woodland has rich hybrids of willow species and poplar. Numerous small ditches dissect the site, running down to the Thames. The river here is tidal and the intertidal mud is used by herons, and wintering birds. The wash land and ditches contain rare marshland plants and flies. A species of snail new to Britain is here. Herons to roost in the trees while the meadow is grazed by cattle in the summer
Syon Pavilion. Also known as Syon Park Boathouse nit is said to have been built by a Duke as a surprise for his wife when she returned to Syon. It is late 18th with a stucco facade by J Wyatt. It faces the river with a bow front and with wings. A granite sett terrace and sloping bank run in front of the pavilion.
Snakes and Ladders indoor adventure playground.
Hilton London Syon Park. In 2004, planning permission was granted for the deluxe £35-million Radisson Edwardian Hotel and in 2011, the Syon Park Waldorf Astoria hotel opened on the site. It was renamed to the Hilton London Syon Park in 2013
British Listed Buildings. Web site
Historic England. Web site
London Borough of Hounslow. Web site
Syon House. Web site
Wikipedia. Syon House. Web site