You will notice I said "lunch at the Rothschilds," not "lunch with the Rothschilds." I just want to be clear! After the Musical Museum, it was time for a little lunch, a little outdoors and a little museum-going and Gunnersby Park was the perfect spot to do all three.
Gunnersby Park House was the home of the Nathan Mayer Rothschild family, who purchased the property in 1834. But it had a long history before, first as the home of Princess Amelia, George II's daughter. She used the home as her summer retreat and was known for giving elaborate parties.
After her death, the estate was sold off in pieces and the original mansion was demolished. Eventually a gentleman named Henry Holland built the large and smaller mansions, adjacent to one another.
The Rothschilds eventually bought both mansions and extended the estate further. Family members lived there until the death of Nathan's grandson, Leopold, in 1925, when his wife sold the entire estate as a memorial to Nathan with the stipulation that it only be used for leisure.
The Gunnersby Park mansion is situated on 200 acres of land in the Brentford/Chiswick, Ealing and Acton areaa of London, not far from Kew Gardens. In 1965 it was passed on to the London Borough of Hounslow. Gunnersby Park is now a public park area. The home is open at no charge, and while the rooms have not been furnished, they have been restored.
The mansion is now a museum which first opened in 1929 and was recently restored to showcase local history and archaeology, costume and fine
It's quite the place, with tall and elaborately painted ceilings. This one, depicting The Four Seasons, was painted in 1837 by Edmund Thomas Parris.
Of course there were elegant chandeliers.
Sections of the home have been turned into a museum related to the Hounslow and Ealing districts of London. I enjoyed seeing reminders of Ealing Studios (the "Downton Abbey" kitchen scenes were filmed at Ealing's studios). Gunnersby itself was featured in the film "The Lavender Hill Mob.")
There was a costume exhibit...
...and there was even a spot to try on period fashions.
One does what one must when visiting the Rothschilds!
Other parts of the museum focused on Ealing schools, industry and its people. I loved seeing the chimney pots.
Look at the intricate designs. Who would ever see this from street level, yet they were exquisitely detailed.
And this "wooly bike" fascinated me. It was inspired by a visit to a bicycle factory and research into Victorian spinning wheels. Artist Wayne Lucas created this bicycle to create textiles while one exercises!
The boating pond near the cafe dates fro 1760 and is the only 18th century building still standing in the park.
I have to say I loved this view...
...and the magnificent swans and gulls that were enjoying the sunny autumn day.
Though considered nationally significant, building maintenance costs have led to great decay, particularly in the case of the small mansion.
While these made for some of the most interesting looking photographs...
...it also makes for some of the saddest.
In fact, both the large and small mansions and seven other structures were considered neglected enough to be placed on the risk sub-list which is compiled by the statutory body Historic England.
But when it was beautiful, it was quite beautiful, especially on a perfect blue-sky day.
It's architectural features were clearly evident in the sunshine and in the shadows.
I confess, it was a little hard to leave this spot -- and we could have stayed for hours enjoying the parkland and Orangerie.
But time to move on! After all, we had a dinner plans!
Not a dress-up affair. Sigh...
Gotta fly! (To check out Jenny's post on our visit to Gunnersby and to the Music Museum, head over HERE!)
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