Syon House

Richmond, Kew & Hampton Court

Once a medieval abbey named after Mt Zion and today owned by the Duke of Northumberland, Syon House was dissolved on the orders of Henry VIII and rebuilt into a residence. The house from where Lady Jane Grey ascended the throne for her nine-day reign in 1553 was remodelled in the neoclassical style by Robert Adam in the 18th century and has plenty of Adam furniture and oak panelling.

The interior was designed on gender-specific lines, with pastel pinks and purples for the ladies’ gallery, and mock Roman sculptures for the men’s dining room. Guests at the house have included the great Mohawk chieftain Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant) and Gunpowder Plot–member Thomas Percy.

Just across the Thames from Kew Gardens, the estate’s 16-hectare gardens, with a lake and the Great Conservatory (1820), were landscaped by Capability Brown. Syon Park is filled with attractions for children, including an adventure playground, aquatic park and trout fishery.

In 1542 Henry VIII dissolved the order of Bridgettine nuns who peacefully lived here and rebuilt it into a residence. In 1547, they say, God exacted his revenge on the king: when his lead coffin spent the night in Syon en route to Windsor for burial his bloated body exploded, bursting the coffin open and leaving the estate’s dogs to lick up the mess.

Take bus 237 or 267 from Gunnersbury tube or train station to the Brentlea Gate bus stop.

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