Chiswick HouseEnglish Heritage archaeologists have recently had a rare chance to investigate Britain’s first ‘Palladian’ country house – Chiswick House in West London.

 

 

{mosimage}In the early 18th century, Palladian style ruled England as the most fashionable for a British country house or public building. The man responsible, Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (1694-1753), designed the building that started this architectural revolution. The restoration works currently taking place in the grounds have given archaeologists the first opportunity to investigate previously undisturbed parts of the site close to the 18th century villa. {mosimage}It lies in a leafy oasis within the London Borough of Hounslow, 15km to the west of central London, on the banks of the River Thames. The earliest building known on site was a Jacobean House, shown on the late 17th-century view of the estate produced by Kip and Knyff, and dating c.1610. The house consisted of four ranges centred on an open courtyard, and was the existing building when the 1st Earl of Burlington acquired the estate in the late 17th century.

{mosimage}There is a wealth of documentary evidence relating to the buildings, the landscape and the parkland as it existed at the time as well as to the proposed changes, all of which helped the archaeologists in their understanding and dating of features as they were uncovered. {mosimage}These recent excavations at Chiswick House are a good example of how archaeology can confirm historical records, as well as fill in the gaps where no records exist.

For a full version of the article with details of the excavation, see Current Archaeology 222.

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