A peaceful herd of cream cattle, horses grazing in a field of buttercups and a farm shop full of locally grown vegetables — it could be anywhere in the English countryside and yet this bucolic scene is 10 miles from central London. This is the parkland attached to Osterley House, a fine Tudor home remodelled by the architect Robert Adam in the 1760s.
When the court sat at Kew, Osterley and Isleworth were popular with the rich and famous, who vied to build big, ostentatious mansions. Most have vanished though Syon House, on the Thames, has been home to the Duke of Northumberland for over 400 years. As at Osterley House, while Adam dealt with the building, Capability Brown laid out the parkland in the then-fashionable naturalistic style.
Old Isleworth is a picturesque enclave of period homes dating back to when Isleworth was a village and small port. Richmond’s Old Deer Park and Kew Gardens are on the other side of the river, but the view is obscured by the wild acres of the Isleworth Ait, one of the largest of the islands in the Thames. The London Apprentice with its large outside terrace is one of London’s most famous riverside pubs.
Properties: much of Isleworth and Osterley was developed in the Twenties and Thirties when art deco factories were springing up along the Great West Road, so there is a good supply of semi-detached houses from the era. Of the period properties for sale in Old Isleworth, the most expensive is the exquisite former dower house for Syon House. This listed eight-bedroom home is on the market through John D Wood (020 3597 4061) for £5.95 million.
James Foster of the Isleworth branch of estate agents Dexters says houses are reaching record prices but flats can still be bought for less than at the top of the last peak in 2007. He says: “Price per square foot varies widely from £200 to £400 depending on the type of property and the condition.”
The area attracts: James Foster says young families who can’t afford Richmond or Chiswick find value for money in Isleworth when they trade up from their first flat to a house. If later they want a larger house they often move to a semi-detached Thirties house in Osterley, close to Osterley House and park. Both are in the TW7 postcode.
Best roads: in the Spring Grove conservation area the best roads are Thornbury Road, The Grove and College Road. There is an enclave of larger Victorian homes in Woodlands Road and Woodlands Grove. Close to Osterley Park there are big Victorian homes on Jersey Road and St Mary’s Gardens.
What’s new: Thornbury Park (0844 417 3154) is a Linden Homes development on Thornbury Road, which includes Campion House, a Victorian mansion turned into 17 flats and 61 new-build two-, three- and four-bedroom houses. Prices start at £499,950 and residents are already moving in. The development will be complete next summer. There are nine affordable flats and four affordable houses through the Shepherd’s Bush Housing Group.
Schools: for girls, Gumley House a Catholic convent school in St John’s Road and The Green School in Busch Corner are judged “outstanding” by the education watchdog, Ofsted, as is Lampton (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Lampton Avenue. Isleworth and Syon School for Boys in Ridgeway Road are judged “good”. Most of the primary schools are “good”, but the Blue School in North Street is judged “outstanding”.
Shops and restaurants: Shopping and eating out aren’t strong points, though Richmond and Chiswick aren’t far. There are coffee bars, patisseries and delicatessens in South Street in Old Isleworth. Syon House has a popular garden centre and the Osterley Bookshop in an old railway station on Thornbury Road is much-loved.
Open space: as well as Syon Park and Osterley Park, Isleworth features in a number of marked walks including the Capital Ring, the River Crane Walk and the Grand Union Canal Walk.
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Leisure and the arts: the nearest council pool is the Isleworth Leisure Centre on Twickenham Road. It also has a library. The Indian Gymkhana Club off Thornbury Road is a sports club with an interesting history. Wyke Green is a golf club with an 18-hole course. Richmond has both theatres and cinemas and the Watermans in nearby Brentford is the local arts centre for films and performances.
Travel and commuting: the area is well placed for the Great West Road (A4) and the M4. Osterley is on the Piccadilly line, while Isleworth and Syon Lane have trains to Waterloo that take 37 and 35 minutes respectively. Both are in Zone 4 and an annual travel card costs £1,672.
Council: Hounslow (Labour-controlled); Band D council tax is £1,397.37.