With the end of September a distant memory, it might feel like the historic house season is over for another year. The great houses wrap themselves in mothballs for the winter and close their doors to visitors. But you can still catch one of them open this month – the conveniently-situated Robert Adam gem, Osterley Park.
I went to Osterley Park in the spring when the bluebells and wisteria were in full bloom and wrote so much about them that I didn’t have space to say anything about the house. But I’m going to put that right now as the interiors are dazzling and perfect for a visit as the days get shorter.
The house began life as a sixteenth century farm house, but in 1761 Francis Child (of the Child’s Bank family) employed Adam to remodel the house, work which went on right up to the 1780s. Adam left the exterior very plain, apart from adding a portico and casing it with red brick.
Inside he designed a series of seven state rooms, along with their furniture, which mainly survives today, and a grand staircase in typical Adam style.
The designs for the library date from 1766, with white painted Ionic bookcases and a ceiling decorated in low relief. Sadly the original fine collection of books was dispersed in 1885.
The walls of the drawing-room are lined with gold silk damask and the ceiling is decorated with pink, blue, and gold ostrich feathers set in an oval surrounded by octagonal coffers. Horace Walpole said it was ‘worthy of Eve before the fall’.
The tapestry-room is lined with Boucher-Neilson Gobelins tapestries dating from 1775.
The ornately decorated eating room has a vista through the main hall to the entrance.
The Long Gallery fully lives up to its name.
The bed in the State Bedchamber is an eight-poster bed; there are two posts at each corner. The domed roof is beautifully decorated inside and out.
This ornate mirror is in Mrs Child’s dressing room.
The kitchens have been arranged to look as though the cook has just popped out for a moment.
Osterley Park is a short walk from Osterley Park tube station on the Piccadilly Line. The house is run by the National Trust and is open Wednesday to Sunday 12 to 4 pm until the end of October.