Osterley

Osterley, Hounslow/Ealing

The location of one of London’s most magnificent stately homes, one-and-a-half miles west of Brentford

Hidden London: Bluebells in Osterley Park by Julian Osley

Oster­ley’s exis­tence was first not­ed in 1274 and the name derives from Old Eng­lish words mean­ing ‘sheep­fold clear­ing’. Sir Thomas Gre­sham, com­mer­cial agent and finan­cial advis­er to Eliz­a­beth I, bought the manor of Oster­ley in 1562 and replaced the exist­ing farm­house with “a faire and state­ley brick house.”

The banker Sir Fran­cis Child acquired the house in 1713 and around 1760 his grand­son com­mis­sioned Robert Adam (and prob­a­bly oth­ers) to remod­el the exte­ri­or and cre­ate lav­ish­ly fur­nished and dec­o­rat­ed new rooms inside, while the grounds were land­scaped and endowed with a chain of lakes. By the begin­ning of the 19th cen­tu­ry Oster­ley Park House had ceased to be the Child fam­i­ly’s main place of res­i­dence.

The neigh­bour­ing local­i­ties, for­mer­ly known as Thorn­bury Com­mon and Scrattage, were occu­pied by farms, cot­tages and brick­yards when Oster­ley and Spring Grove sta­tion opened on Thorn­bury Road in 1883. The com­mon lay between Oster­ley Park and Spring Grove, while Scrattage was to its west.

Lit­tle change took place until the con­struc­tion of the Great West Road, when sub­ur­ban devel­op­ment began with lux­u­ry semi-detached hous­es on Wood Lane. Each had its own quar­ter-acre plot and was priced at a steep £2,500. The present Oster­ley sta­tion – a clas­sic Charles Hold­en design – opened in 1934. The old sta­tion build­ing is now a book­shop.

In 1939 George Child Vil­liers, 9th Earl of Jer­sey, opened Oster­ley Park House to the pub­lic and ten years lat­er he gave it to the Nation­al Trust. Today the house is pre­sent­ed as it would have looked in the 1780s and is open to the pub­lic from Wednes­day to Sun­day in spring, sum­mer and autumn and on most week­ends in win­ter. Rooms can be hired for wed­ding and civ­il part­ner­ship cer­e­monies and recep­tions.

Osterley Park, Mike Foston

Oster­ley Park – now split in two by the M4 motor­way – has woods, farms and sport­ing facil­i­ties. A six-year Nation­al Trust project has recent­ly restored the house­’s plea­sure grounds to their 18th cen­tu­ry grandeur, with herba­ceous bor­ders, ros­es and orna­men­tal veg­eta­bles beds – and the orig­i­nal Robert Adam sum­mer house is full of lemon trees and high­ly scent­ed shrubs.

Osterley Park has been a popular location for filming country house dramas, including the 1999 version of Mansfield Park.

Postcode area: Isleworth TW7
Population: 13,031 (Osterley and Spring Grove ward, 2011 census)
Station: Piccadilly Line (zone 4)
Further reading: Lucy Porten, Osterley Park and House, History Press, 2017
Wesbite: National Trust – Osterley Park and House
* The picture of bluebells in Osterley Park at the top of this page is slightly modified from an original photograph, copyright Julian Osley, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. The picture of Osterley Park House is adapted from an original photograph at Flickr, copyright Mike Foston, made available under the Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of those licences.