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Mid-March to Late-October; daily; 10.30am - 5pm. Last admission one hour before closing Sat Nav: TW7 6AZ
Mid-March - Late- October Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday and BH Only
Spring / Autumn
Syon House, Gardens & Great Conservatory: Adult £12.50; Concessions £11.00; Child £5.50; Family(2A + 2C) £28.00. Groups of 25+ Adults £11.00; Concessions £10.00
Garden and Great Conservatory £7.50; Concession £6.00; Child £4.00; Family (2A + 2C) £16.00
Season tickets available, enquire.
Syon Park guidebook £3
Assistance dogs only. See own website for details of events
40 acres of garden in originally 'Capability' Brown landscaped parkland, including lakeside walk, rose garden, many species of rare trees and Charles Fowler's spectacular Great Conservatory.
William Turner, physician to the Duke of Somerset and pioneer scientific botanical writer, mentions the gardens of Syon frequently, and with plenteous compliments, in two of his works, The Names of Herbs (1548) and the New Herbal. Turner recognised the great potential of the Gardens, a result of an early growing season and rich alluvial soils. He indeed sought out many of his herbal remedies within, what was then, Somerset's estate.
The garden, though now very different to Turner's day, benefits from its geographical positioning on the banks of the River Thames. The river has become, indeed, almost a feature of the garden, as it meanders past Syon's Tidal Water Meadows; water features, including a 'Capability' Brown lake, seemingly paying tribute to the calming, natural influence of the river. The Great Conservatory is an architectural feat of great beauty and magnificent proportions housing sub-tropical plants in one heated wing and bedding plants, such as Pelargoniums and Geraniums in the other.
In the gardens visitors can walk beside the lake under the shade of some of the 3000 trees that Syon Park boasts. The 200 different species, including the Wing Nut, Turkish Hazel, a Medlar and a Quince, are again the legacy of the exploratory gardeners and landscape designers who have left their mark on this historical garden. In Spring and Summer, complemented by grape hyacinths, snowdrops, anemone blanda and aconites amongst other plants but year round, accompanied by the presence of nearly one hundred species of bird; the trees and wildlife foregrounding Syon Park's role as a horticultural haven within barely ten miles of the centre of London.
The keen interest of many of its owners has ensured that Syon Park enjoys a botanical history almost as rich as the history of the families that have inhabited it. In 1415, Syon Abbey was founded and the Bridgettine Order which came to live there endowed by Henry V. It was perhaps under the kind vigilance of the Abbesses that the gardens were established. However, it was when Syon Park became a private home, first for the Duke of Somerset from 1547 and later for the Percys from 1597, that the Gardens became a real feature within the estate. Henry, ninth Earl of Northumberland (1584-1632), was given the royal grant of Syon in 1603 and immediately employed one Mr. Styckles to give 'direction for garden work'. It was at this point that the garden was first walled in and practical features, including an orchard and garden kitchen built. It is indeed said, that following his fall from James I's favour and his subsequent imprisonment in The Tower of London, the ninth Earl continued to live off the fruits of his estate. Despite his enforced absence, it is this Earl that had the most influence in shaping both the house and gardens of Syon Park.
Development of the gardens has been almost continual since the times of Henry Percy; changing with fashions but reflecting a sustained familial enthusiasm for horticulture. One of the most notable alterations came when the formality of the tenth Earl's continental garden was replaced by informality under the surveillance of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. With a team of twenty-four workmen, Brown transformed the gardens; evidence of which can be found in 'The Peninsula', and indeed the area surrounding Flora's Column, once named 'Syon Pleasure Ground'.
There is mention of a 'botanic house' built during the reign of the second Duke of Northumberland (1796-1817). However, this structure would be in 1876-7 replaced by the magnificent conservatory designed by Charles Fowler - the architect responsible for the covered market at Covent Garden. This structure housed many exotic species that Hugh, the third Duke (1817-1847) had had brought back from various botanical expeditions to Ceylon, India and the Cape of Good Hope among others. J.C. Loudon was especially grateful of this Duke's patronage whilst Richard Forrest was consulted by Fowler during the construction and in fact worked from Syon, with a team of fifteen botanical gardeners, to continue his research when not on expedition. Indeed, during the time of Hugh's brother, Algernon, a giant lily, Victoria Regia, propagated at Syon, was shown at the Great Exhibition (1851).
Such pioneering has always been balanced with practicality. The fourth Duke introduced both Jersey and Highland cattle to the estate whilst the tenth Duke (1940-1988) opened at Syon, the first British garden centre. His successor stocked the outer lake with trout and opened it to amateur rods.
The present Duke has continued the tradition of enhancing the gardens with an extensive replanting programme reflecting an inherited pride in the Percy heritage and with it, their London home.