With a spectacular mansion surrounded by gardens, park and farmland, Osterley Park and House is one of the last surviving country estates in London.
Osterley Park House was commissioned by the Child family, the founders of Child’s Bank (now owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland) in 1761. They chose the fashionable architect Robert Adam to transform a Tudor mansion into the elegant neo-classical villa that stands today.
Osterley Park became the Child family’s principal country residence and was used for entertaining and impressing their friends and business associates. When the heiress of the Child family married the Earl of Jersey in 1804, Osterley became a secondary home to her husband’s estates in Oxfordshire. Osterley was never ‘home’ again as it had been for the Childs. Today the House is very much as it was in the late 18th century and it still retains the interiors and furniture that Adam designed.
In the 1760s Robert Adam was a leader of London fashion. He had taken over from some of the more conventional architects and offered something new with designs that were directed but not cramped by antiquity. Adam had a strong command of classical antiquity from touring Italy between 1754 and 1758 which was boosted by his own self confidence and flamboyancy!
Adam at Osterley
Adam created the ‘transparent’ portico on the east front by demolishing the library and original Entrance Hall. Adam’s interiors at Osterley do not form a continuous sequence of design but instead illustrate the several stages of development of Adam’s style. The Drawing Room and Eating Room were completed first, followed by the Library in 1766 and the Entrance Hall in 1767/8. Work at Osterley then ceased until 1772 when Adam was commissioned to design a suite of state apartments.
Unlike the early rooms at Osterley the three state apartments were conceived together as a sequence alluding to the elements of fire (the red of the Tapestry Room), earth (green in the State Bedroom) and air (blue in the Etruscan Dressing Room). These apartments are the only surviving examples in the country of the high watermark of Adam’s interior decoration complete with the furniture he designed for it.