Syon Park, Brentford

Syon is one of the last ‘great houses’ of London, and has been in the family of the present owner, the Duke of Northumberland, for more than 400 years. The site has a fascinating history: Syon Abbey was one of the wealthiest nunneries in the country, closed by royal agents during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Henry VIII’s funeral cortege rested at Syon on route for Windsor, his bloated corpse famously exploding overnight.

Transformed into a private house, in 1594 Syon passed by marriage to Henry Percy, the 9th Earl of Northumberland. He was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot, and confined in the Tower for 17 years, which didn’t seem to stop him and his son Algernon spending a considerable sum on the refurbishment of Syon and surrounding it with grand formal gardens in the French style. During the English Civil War there were skirmishes around the Park and in 1647 the three younger royal children were kept at Syon House.

In the eighteenth century both house and gardens underwent a total refurbishment; Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland, commissioned architect and interior designer Robert Adam and landscape designer Lancelot “Capability” Brown to redesign the house and estate. It has remained a family home, though it was used as a hospital during the First World War. Opened to the public in 1951, the house holds a wealth of art within its grand classical interiors.

The Park and Gardens are beautiful to walk around. The Great Conservatory has been used as a location for music videos and film shoots, including the 1967 Dudley Moore – Peter Cook version of Bedazzled and John Boorman’s first feature film Catch Us If You Can.

The House & Gardens are open from Monday 12th March until the end of October and close for the winter, except for the Enchanted Woodland event in November, when the Gardens are lit by night. Throughout the season the House is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, from 11.00am – 5.00pm; the Gardens are open daily from 10.30am – 5.00pm.

Other businesses in the grounds, including the Hilton Hotel Syon Park, the Garden Centre and indoor play centre Snakes and Ladders stay open all year. Syon Park Trout Fishery, which offers easily accessible trout fishing for novices and more experienced anglers, is open every day from 8.00am until dusk, except Christmas Day.

Syon Park charges an entry fee. You can buy separate tickets for the House and for the Gardens and Great Conservatory. See Syon Park website for prices.

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