Osterley House and Gardens – A Little Piece of Paradise
There aren’t many National Trust properties you can get to by tube, and Osterley has everything you could ask for; historic house, beautiful gardens and a great tea shop, situated, not, uncommonly in the former stables.
If you’re only in London for a few days, why not take a break from the crowds and enjoy a relaxing day exploring the Robert Adam
(mostly) designed house, set within x acres of grounds, which include a Tudor walled garden, lake and masses of space to find a secret corner of your own. There is even a volleyball net and football goals, if you feel in need of some energetic activity. Beneath the 250 year old cedars there are deckchairs, irresistible for a little snooze on a sunny day. Not just any deckchairs either, I was delighted to see that they appear to be from Southsea
, recycled, with new seats.
The walk from Osterley Station
begins unpromisingly, alongside the A4, but soon turns left down a side road and, before you know it, you’re inside the Park on a path parallel to the main drive. With grazing either side, on such a hot day the mature trees which line the drive were very welcome. Arriving at the car park, where there’s a seasonal café, I was offered a ride to the House in the volunteer driven buggy. I declined, but it’s a nice gesture towards less mobile visitors, particularly as the House itself is not accessible.
I don’t know about you, but the café is usually my first stop, anywhere really. You know you will find quality food at National Trust cafés, and the Courgette and Stilton soup was very tasty. There is plenty of space, both inside and out and the Stables conversion has been done well.
500 years of history in 15 minutes sounded my cup of tea, so I joined a small group to listen to the excellent volunteer guide, congratulating myself on accepting his invitation to sit down. If you turn up when the main house is closed, you can still join a below stairs tour, so you don’t feel you’ve had a wasted journey.
Not all of the House is open to the public, while money is raised and decisions made about future restoration work. You do, however, get to see the main rooms designed by Adam, restored to their original colour scheme and with most of the furniture returned after being bought back from the V and A. Each room also has fabulous flower arrangements, created by volunteers, using flowers which would have been around in the 18th Century and now growing in the Tudor Walled Garden.
Following a helpful laminated map, I strolled around the gardens, lingering in the walled garden amidst the beautiful summer flowers. Not able to resist one of the many deckchairs set out in the shade of a Cedar tree, I had a little rest, gazing up through the branches to the cloudless sky.
A cream tea had my name on it, so I forced myself to leave Paradise and set off back to civilisation. As well as the National Trust shop, Osterley sells books and plants from the garden so I was able to take a little piece of this lovely place home with me. If I lived nearer, I would definitely be coming here often.