Jersey Rd (off Thornbury Rd), Isleworth, Middx, TW7 4RB
Like many open spaces in west London, Osterley Park is marred by noisy transport links, in this case the M4, which cuts a swathe through the 357-acre park. It was, of course, all fields here once, along with a paper mill, woodland, ponds and streams. A rural idyll, indeed, in which a handsome square house was built for Sir Thomas Gresham in 1576. Sir Francis Child, who made a fortune in gold, acquired the house as payment for a bad debt, and as the Child dynasty created vast wealth, Osterley House underwent costly remodelling by celebrity architect Robert Adam. The extravagant interiors survive, thanks largely to the generosity of the Earl of Jersey, who inherited the place in 1923, opened it to the public and gave it to the Trust in 1949. The showy main rooms are a perfect foil for the more fascinating below-stairs areas, especially the vast, atmospheric kitchens, which speak volumes about the lives of the servants in such flashy edifices. Osterley House is really good at looking even grander for the cameras. It stood in as Buckingham Palace for the film ‘Mrs Brown’, and its park masqueraded royally as Hyde Park for the film ‘Miss Potter’.