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Home > New Search > Syon House (Syon Park) (Sion House)

Syon House (Syon Park) (Sion House)  England 
Brentwood, Hounslow, London, England

Circa Date: 1547-52 house built on remains of Brigittine Abbey; significantly altered 1765-67

Status: Fully Extant


Special Info / Location/ Date

Special Info
Phonetic Pronunciation of House Name

District Today
 Historic County
 City / Town / Village
Brentwood, Hounslow

Start Date
Completion Date
Circa Date
1547-52 house built on remains of Brigittine Abbey; significantly altered 1765-67

Hand-colored engraving of 1818 by J. Greig from a painting by I. Powell that shows the House from the Thames

Click on thumbnail for a larger view

Hand-colored engraving of 1818 by J. Greig from a painting by I. Powell that shows the House from the Thames
An 18th century engraving of the Entrance Façade by A. Hogg
The Boathouse
The River Façade
The Courtyard
Family Dining Room
Family Dining Room Fireplace
Robert Adam Fireplace in the Green Drawing Room, originally in the Glass Drawing Room at Northumberland House
The Entrance Façade
porte-cochère lamp
The Great Conservatory
The Great Conservatory
The Great Conservatory
The Great Conservatory
Robert Adam's Turret Room, off the Long Gallery
Giant Sevres Vase in Staircase Hall
Robet Adam's Entrance Hall
Apse in the Entrance Hall with a copy of the Apollo Belvedere
Robert Adam's Ante Room
Robert Adam's Long Gallery

Designed   The Evidence Room, an outbuilding, for 2nd Duke of Northumberland.
Date   1809

Designed   River Terrace, ornamental Dairy, and other works, for 4th Duke of Northumberland.
Date   Post 1847

Designed   Castellated Stables (1789-90) and Iron Bridge in Park (1790) for 2nd Duke of Northumberland
Date   1789-90

Designed   Gothic bridge for 1st Duke of Northumberland (demolished)
Date   1760

Designed   Domed Ionic Boathouse for 2nd Duke of Northumberland
Date   1803

Designed   Work for 1st Duke of Northumberland, probably to designs of, or with in collaboration with, Robert Adam.
Date   Circa 1762-66

Designed   Unspecified work for 6th Duke of Somerset
Date   1704-06

Designed   Probably responsible for encasing House in Bath stone
Date   1819-26
Attribution of this work is uncertain.

Designed   Extensive repairs and alterations to House for 10th Earl of Northumberland
Date   1656-60

Designed   Great Conservatory for 3rd Duke of Northumberland
Date   1827-30

Designed   Landscaping
Date   1750s-70s

Designed   Remodeled interiors (1762-69) and Entrance Screen [Lion Gate] (1773) for 1st Duke of Northumberland
Date   1762-73

Extant / Listed / References

Extant Type
Fully Extant
Extant Details

House Listed As 
Grade I
Gardens Listed As  
Grade I
Country House:  Yes

Vitruvius Britannicus
Vitruvius Scoticus
J.B. Burke (Burke's Visitation of Seats)
Vol. I, p. 182, 1852.
Country Life
XLVI, 728, 802, 838, 874, 1919. CVIII, 1873, 1950. Apr 16, 1992.
J.P. Neale (Neale's Views of Seats)
Access / Ownership / Seat

Open to Public Please note: Houses listed as being open "By Appointment" are usually country house hotels, B&Bs, or schools.
Historic Houses Association Member
Phone Number If calling from the U.S., delete the first "0" in British numbers.
Fax Number

Current Ownership
Current Ownership Type
Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use
Private Home
Current Ownership Use / Details
London home of the Duke of Northumberland

Seat ("Seat" is loosely defined as any family that occupied the house for a period of 2 years or more)
Today Seat of
Duke of Northumberland; Percy family here since 16th century.
A Past Seat(s) of
Duke of Somerset, Seymour family. Hugh Smithson, 18th Earl of Northumberland, later created 1st Duke of Northumberland (Percy family).
Possible (Unsure) Seat of
History / Gardens & Park / Movies

Earlier House(s) / Building(s)
House Replaced By
Built / Designed For
House & Family History
Early Britons drove stakes into the bed of what is today the River Thames at Syon in an attempt to stop the legions of Julius Caesar from crossing the river (one of the actual stakes was discovered during dredging in the late 20th century and can be seen on display in the House today). It's ironic that Robert Adam’s 18th century designs at Syon, most particularly his Entrance Hall, would be easily recognizable today to an ancient Roman. Syon was originally the site of a medieval abbey named after Mount Zion (Sion) in the Holy Land and founded by Henry V so that 60 nuns and 20 priests could carry forth never-ending prayers to God to save the soul of the King's father for his role in the murder of Richard II. It was one of the last great abbeys to be built in England (completed in 1431) and was dedicated to the Bridgettine Order, founded in the 14th century by the Swedish mystic St. Bridget. The Abbey was brutally dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539 as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and, by 1547, it had been turned into a private house (Edward VI, in the first year of his reign, granted the monastery of Sion to Edward, Duke of Somerset, the Lord Protector). King Henry VIII's coffin rested at Syon in 1547 on its way to Windsor for burial; during the night the coffin burst open and in the morning dogs were found licking up the fluids that had leaked out of the coffin during the night. This was regarded as a divine judgment for the King's desecration of Sion Abbey. It was also at Syon in 1553 that Henry VIII's great-niece, Lady Jane Grey, reluctantly accepted the crown (she reigned for nine days as uncrowned Queen before being deposed by Mary I, who had her executed for treason in 1554). Other royal visitors have included Queen Victoria and Queens Catherine of Aragon (kept as a prisoner at Syon) and Catherine Howard, both wives of Henry VIII. The celebrated Mohawk chief Joseph Brant, after whom Brantford, Ontario, is named, met the 2nd Duke of Northumberland here and fought for the British in the American War of Independence. Robert Adam famously designed many interiors at Syon for the 1st Duke of Northumberland in the 1760s. The famous Long Gallery was designed by Adam as a Roman columbarium and library. Though he was very grand, the 1st Duke was human; his illegitimate son, James Smithson (born 1765), founded the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Adam's brilliant Glass Drawing Room from Northumberland House was disassembled and stored at Syon after the demolition of Northumberland House in 1874; a few bits of it are still at Syon today, though most of it was sold to Bert Crowther, who famously hired the Room out for parties. In 1953 Crowther's parts of the Room were purchased by the Victoria & Albert Museum; in 2002 one section of the Glass Drawing Room was installed in the V&A's new British Galleries. A fine painting of Syon House by Canaletto is now on display at the Duke of Northumberland's primary seat, Alnwick Castle, in Northumberland.
Collections This field lists art objects that are currently or were previously in the collection of the house.

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Though later dispersed, in the 18th century Syon contained the largest collection of ancient coins in England. An inlaid scagliola chimneypiece and heart-slab formerly in the Glass Drawing Room at Northumberland House, designed by Robert Adam, 1774, and probably made by Bartoli and Richter, is now in the Green Drawing Room at Syon (see photo in "Images" section). A pair of lacquered brass gas lights, 122 inches tall, is today at Syon House (there is a matching set at The Bowes Museum, County Durham); both sets were made for first floor parade rooms of Northumberland House by William Collins in 1823. On July 9, 2014 £32 million was raised in three auctions in London by Sotheby's, who auctioned art from Syon and Alnwick Castle.
Eileen Harris, writing in "The Genius of Robert Adam: His Interiors," states that the Ante Room at Syon "is the first English interior decorated in the manner of a classical triumphal-arch with projecting columns carrying free-standing figures." Christopher Hussey, writing in “English Country Houses: Mid Georgian, 1760-1800,” cites the Hall at Heveningham as “Wyatt’s surviving masterpiece as an interior designer and perhaps, after Adam’s Anti-room at Syon, the finest room produced by English neo-classicism.” Mark Girouard, writing in "Historic Houses of Britain," calls Adam's rooms at Syon "the most brilliant sequence of rooms of his career."

Gardens & Park
Garden, Park, Follies and Outbuildings
Syon today sits in a 200-acre park, with features of Capability Brown's 18th century landscape design still evident. Charles Fowler designed the famous Great Conservatory in the 1820s. The English architect John Johnston went to Brazil in 1815 to oversee the building of a replica of Robert Adam's Entrance Screen (Lion Gate) at Syon for the Prince Regent of Portugal, who was living in exile in Rio de Janeiro. The 2nd Duke of Northumberland commissioned the replica Coade stone gateway as a gift for the Portuguese royal. In 1874 the Percy Lion statue from Northumberland House at Charing Cross, London, was erected on the River Façade of Syon House. In 2002 the 12th Duke proposed building a new 154-bed hotel on the grounds of Syon House. In 2004 permission was granted for the deluxe £35 million Radisson Edwardian Hotel to be located beside the main Estate parking lot, with plans to build and open in 2008-09. The hotel that actually opened on March 11, 2011 in the grounds of Syon was the five-star, £40 million Waldorf Astoria London Syon Park (londonsyonpark.com). The new 137-room hotel’s exterior was required to be sympathetic with its historic surroundings and was built on the site originally intended for the Radisson Edwardian Hotel. As part of the development deal, Ability, the construction company, restored the Adam oval carriageway in front of Syon House and the Duchess Gate, which was opened for the first time since the 1930s. In November 2010, during the construction phase for the new hotel, the remains of an ancient Roman village were uncovered. Discovered approximately 20 inches below ground were over 11,000 fragments of pottery, 100 coins and pieces of jewelry, and human remains. The village was very likely built to serve the Thames crossing on the major Roman road to Silchester in northern Hampshire.
Chapel & Church

Location for Movies / TV
"Bedazzled" (1967 - using The Great Conservatory). "Accident" (1967). "King Ralph" (1991 - the grounds were used as those of Buckingham Palace, including The Great Conservatory; Robert Adam's Great Hall and Ante Room were used as interiors of Buckingham Palace). "The Madness of King George" (1994). "London" (1994 - the wall and the Lion Gate). ""Emma" (1996). "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" (1996). "The Wings of the Dove" (1997). "The Avengers" (1998). "Longitude" (2000 - TV mini series). "The Golden Bowl" (2000). "Wives and Daughters" (2000 - for the London Ball scene). "Gosford Park" (2001). "Love in a Cold Climate" (2001 - TV mini series, as interiors of Lord and Lady Montdore's country house). "Daniel Deronda" (2002 - TV mini series). "Byron" (2003 - TV mini series, as Melbourne House). "The Young Visiters" (2003 - TV movie). "The Lost Prince" (2003 - TV movie, as the interiors of Marlborough House and as staterooms of Buckingham Palace). "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking" (2004 - BBC TV movie, as interiors of the palace where the ball took place). "Time Team" (2004 - TV series: Season 11, Episode 1: "Syon House, London"). "Amazing Grace" (2006). "Cranford" (2007 - TV series, as the Long Gallery and Great Hall of Hanbury Court). "Miss Marple: Nemesis" (2007 - TV series, as exterior and interiors of Forester Grange). "Miss Austen Regrets" (2008 - TV movie, as the Prince Regent's Carlton House). "Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour of Europe" (2009 - TV mini series). "Great Expectations" (2011 - BBC TV mini series, as Pip's club). "Dancing on the Edge" (2013 - TV series). "Downton Abbey" (2013 - TV series, the Great Conservatory is used as the London venue where Lady Mary and Lord Gillingham meet for tea in episode 4.8). "Belle" (2013 - as interiors of Kenwood House). "Endeavour" (2014 - TV series, in the episode "Trove," the Dining Room was used as the exhibition space of the Oxford museum). "Agatha Christie: Poirot: The Big Four" (2014 - TV series, the Great Hall was used for the chess game). "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (2016).

Author   Colvin, Howard
Year Published   2008
Reference   pgs. 51, 202, 292, 394, 481, 499, 583, 638, 726, 771, 1097, 1098, 1185

Author   Adams, Mark
Year Published   2000

Author   NA
Year Published   NA
Reference   pg. 30

Author   Harris, Eileen
Year Published   2001
Reference   pgs. 73, 101, 103

Author   Pearce, David
Year Published   1986
Reference   pg. 31

Author   Girouard, Mark
Year Published   1979
Reference   pg. 82

Author   NA
Year Published   NA
Reference   2002, pg. 7

Author   Hussey, Christopher
Year Published   1956
Reference   pg. 174

Author   NA
Year Published   2010
Reference   pg. 303

There are no documents associated with this house.

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