If you have ever zipped along the Piccadilly line to Heathrow or sped along the M4 westward out of London, the chances are you have been within a few yards of Osterley but not taken much notice. To be fair, you are probably concentrating on the journey and, after a while, one part of a city looks pretty much the same as another. Yet, within a few miles of the centre of London, and closer by miles than London Heathrow Airport, is a corner of London that is still rural Middlesex. If it weren’t for the presence of the nearby flight path for planes en route to or from Heathrow, you could imagine that you were in some park in a country estate.
I am a townie, and it came as a surprise to find Osterley Park in our neck of the woods – the same London borough where I grew up and within easy distance of where I went school. Near enough to amble to during a “study period”…
Naturally, there have been some changes since I were a lad. For a start, there is now a fence and an admission fee between the park and the gardens; the toilets are up to a modern standard; and holiday activities put on through the auspices of the National Trust are now de rigueur. Time was it was just a park with a basic cafe which was never open went we went.
If you wish to see inside the house, do check for opening times and prices – and car parking fees for non members. It won’t take you long to visit and there are some stairs to climb but you do get to see both “upstairs” and “downstairs”. You may get a sense of some of the local history of the immediate area – I was intrigued by the old maps in a corridor on the lower floor. Mostly they showed the land owned by the Jersey family including one which showed the then new extension to the Metropolitan Railway (now part of the Piccadilly line). One did feature where I grew up but there were orchards, not houses, then.
You can’t get there easily from the motorway, and the underground station which used to serve the park was moved decades ago a couple of a hundred yards down the line so it is a bit of a walk from the “new” station. I say “new” but it was there before I was born! The old booking office is currently, I think, a bookshop – at least it was once.
The photos don’t really do justice to the place. Flash photography is not permitted in the house so the photos I took there were a little disappointing. It is pleasant in Spring/Summer but I preferred it out of season on a week day with a chill in the air and few, if any, other noisy day trippers to interrupt the ambiance.