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The history of Osterley Park

The Entrance Hall at Osterley Park and House, London
The Entrance Hall at Osterley Park and House, London | © National Trust Images/John Hammond

From humble Tudor beginnings, the house at Osterley Park was transformed by architect Robert Adam for the Child family during the late 18th century, turning it into a fashionable party house fit for entertaining banking clients, friends and family.

A status symbol

The neo-classical mansion at Osterley Park was originally a Tudor house built in the 1570s by Sir Thomas Gresham. The house was later acquired by wealthy banker Sir Francis Child in 1713.

Other owners of Osterley include William Waller, commander of the Parliamentarian armies and later Nicholas If-Jesus-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barbon, who died in debt to the Child bank through whom he had mortgaged Osterley.

Sir Francis Child and his sons were at the forefront of modern banking, during what was known as the ‘financial revolution’ of the late 17th century. They were major investors in the new stock markets and founded their own family banking business on Fleet Street, competing with the newly formed Bank of England.

It was a high-risk business but one which brought the Child family huge success. It allowed them to acquire the grand Osterley Park in West London as part of a defaulted mortgage and indulge in their passion for collecting works of art from around the world.

A fashionable makeover

Sir Francis’s grandson, also called Francis, employed young Scottish architect Robert Adam in 1761 to remodel and transform Osterley into the grand mansion you see today; Horace Walpole once described it as the ‘palace of palaces.’

During this time Adam was making a name for himself in fashionable society in London, designing the homes of the rich and famous. He worked on Osterley Park for nearly 20 years between 1760 and 1778, transforming and styling the house, taking inspiration from his travels around Europe and the classical world.

Modern glamour at Osterley

Osterley continued to be known as a party house into the 1930s and hosted many glitzy celebrity parties during this time. Country Life and other magazines published glossy articles listing Hollywood celebrities among the guests.

Osterley’s history with film and television goes back to the 1930s – An Alligator Named Daisy was shot here – right through to the modern day with The Dark Knight Rises, Vanity Fair and The Crown being filmed on site.

View across the lake towards the east front with the 'transparent' portico at Osterley, Middlesex

Discover more at Osterley Park and House

Find out when Osterley Park and House is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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Oil painting on canvas, Upton House from the South by Anthony Devis, circa 1784, depicting a winter's day with the house seen from across the valley; four men are skating on the lake in the foreground and a horseman accompanied by some hounds is riding in the park beyond; fir trees line either side of the lake and a small classical temple is at the far end.


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Painting of Saint Agatha, by Carlo Dolci, circa 1665-70 at Osterley Park, London

Osterley Park's collections 

Explore the objects and works of art we care for at Osterley Park on the National Trust Collections website.