After my walk around Syon House & Park, I spent 20 more minutes on the bicycle and entered the back gate of Osterley Park. I stopped at the far side of the lake to take the picture above.
It’s a case of taste as to whether you find the red-brick open-courtyarded exterior of Osterley Park appealing. I don’t. It’s too harsh for me. Like Syon House, Osterley also has tudor origins, dating back to the 1570s. It was remodeled in the 1760s by Robert Adam.
It is yet another example of how banking families bought up and fashioned country houses in the 18th and 19th centuries, to use their new wealth and create a suitable “seat”, as at Stourhead. And Waddesdon.
I’ve visited Osterley before (see here) and a couple of things had changed since I last visited: (1) now visitors enter through the front door, which is a plus – Simon Jennings would be proud as he dislikes it much when today’s tourists don’t encounter interiors and architecture in the order that was intended; (2) visitors are sent up to look at at the bedrooms before the state rooms. That I don’t understand at all. The NT need to sort that out.
As for experience, well, the house is dead and the guides know next to nothing about the contents and rooms (once again at a National Trust house, even though it was the end of the season, the first room steward that I enquried something of said “I don’t know, I’m new”.) Sigh.
I do begin to despair with the National Trust sometimes. Why are they getting it so wrong? Is it the dumbing down for the masses that they are failing with? Or how they attract their volunteers (there was a volunteer upstairs explaining how when they retired they went to a local organisation asking where they could volunteer; and they were sent to Osterley, never having been there before).
The simple solution is to put a live-in custodian in every house and encourage life again in the building; photographs, evolution and breath. Accept that the threadbare curtains need to come down and put something up that shows the house as it should be. Pull up the blinds!!!! If Chatsworth House, Woburn Abbey and Castle Howard can cope with light coming in, so should the National Trust. It won’t last for “ever” dear so what are you going to do in 50, 100 years?
But it has the Etruscan room to save it, which is really why I was back.
Good old Robert Adam strikes again, this time for banking dynasty of the Childs.
I went back outside to drink a hot drink in the courtyard, watching all the families wiling away the afternoon.
And then I crunched over the autumn leaves on my bike, across the park, out the back gate and back into urban life.
When visited: October 2015