We opt for neoclassical

Osterley Today we took a tube ride to Osterley, one of the last surviving country estates in London. The existence of the manor house of Osterley was first noted in 1274. Sir Thomas Gresham, financial adviser to Elizabeth I, bought the manor in 1562 and replaced the existing farmhouse with “a faire and stateley brick house.”

The banker Sir Francis Child acquired the house in 1713 and around 1760 his grandson commissioned Robert Adam (and probably others) to remodel the exterior and create lavishly furnished and decorated new rooms inside, while the grounds were landscaped and endowed with a chain of lakes. But by the beginning of the 19th century Osterley Park House had ceased to be the Child family’s main place of residence.

The chain of ownership is a bit fuzzy for us, but it seemed that the house eventually became the property of George Child Villiers, 9th Earl of Jersey. In 1939 he opened the house and grounds to the public; ten years later he gave it to the National Trust. Today the house is presented as it would have looked in the 1780’s. Surrounded by gardens, park and farmland, it is a great country estate within a great city.

Most of the house seems very elegant in the neoclassical style of Adam. The original family did not want the library painted, so it is a light-filled home for their book collection. Color and much more decoration does appear further on in the house.

The contrast between the white classic Adam decor and the excess of the show rooms is quite dramatic. The rooms were designed for royal visitors, who may or may not have materialized. Facts are skimpy here.

Totally out of left field, but amazing in its own right is the Etruscan Room, predating the discovery of Pompeii, but capturing the style that the Etruscans brought to it.

It’s a lovely setting, packed with visitors enjoying the gardens and the grounds on an absolutely gorgeous day. The house lacks the history of Knole, but you can’t beat the location — a tube stop on the way to and from Heathrow that we’ve passed many times. Now we know more about what treasures Osterley holds.

Don’s Food Corner

There’s a tradition at many British restaurants and pubs to serve a “Sunday roast.” This consists of roast beef, roast potatoes, roast root vegetables, peas (mushy or not) and some type of cabbage, usually Savoy cabbage and, of course, Yorkshire pudding.

Seeing that it was being offered at the local pub near where we are staying and where we had a good experience a few days, we decided to give it a go.

Well, it was excellent. A few slices of “British sirloin” — tender and not over-roasted — nestled on top of the requisite veggies, roast potatoes, along with a very fine sauce that hovered between au jus and gravy. Plus, an impressive and piping hot Yorkshire pudding in a popover style. This combo works, as it has for a few thousand years, both in England and then on to the U.S.A. Thank you, England.

Despite our proclaimed hiatus from fish and chips, Jo settled on yet another tasting. We had had some in this pub before and were pleased with it. It didn’t disappoint this time either.

2 thoughts on “We opt for neoclassical

  1. Reminds me of my childhood. My mother made roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for Sunday dinner on a regular basis. I loved it. I wish I had learned to make the pudding as her mother, who was British, taught her. It was baked in a pan and not popover style. Yummmmm.

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