Audio Tour 4
4a) The Ionic Temple
4b) Chiswick After Lord Burlington
(Scroll down for second part of tour)
4a The Ionic Temple
Former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion reads his poem, ‘The Ionic Temple, Chiswick.’
SIR ANDREW MOTION:
Once upon a time it was the thimble a seamstress might wear to work for the big Classical gods.
For us it more nearly resembles the domed nose
of a cruise missile easing upwards from its silo.
But enough of that.
When we step inside it fits so snugly I might as well have discovered a way
of living in your head as you now live in mine.
The skylight in the centre overhead is a fontanel yet to close.
We can stare straight back at the sun.
4b Chiswick after Lord Burlington
After Lord Burlington died in 1753, Chiswick House was inherited by his daughter, Charlotte, who married the 4th Duke of Devonshire. The Devonshires were one of the richest and most powerful families in England. Under their ownership, which lasted for 140 years, Chiswick continued to change, with innovative designs that reflected cutting-edge trends.
In 1788, the 5th Duke expanded the house, adding two wings that contained kitchens and living accommodation and Chiswick became a proper country mansion. The sombre Duke, who preferred dogs to people, and his wife, Georgiana, made the house a centre of political society, where they threw lavish parties. Georgiana was a fashion icon, famous for her enormous ostrich feather headdresses, her towering hair-dos, and her manner of speaking, the ‘Devonshire House Drawl’. She was equally infamous for her addictions, extramarital affairs and gambling debts. However, she loved Chiswick, calling it her ‘earthly paradise,’ her refuge.
At the end of the 19th century, the house became another sort of refuge: it was let to the Tuke brothers, who opened a private asylum for wealthy individuals with mental illnesses.