Chiswick House Guides at The Ritz

A Sunday morning in May found seven very fortunate Chiswick House Guides with English Heritage Site Supervisor, Ricky Pound, all dressed up in our best, being warmly welcomed with tea and cake in the lobby of The Ritz Hotel.

A Sunday morning in May found seven very fortunate Chiswick House Guides with English Heritage Site Manager, Ricky Pound, all dressed up in our best, being warmly welcomed with tea and cake in the lobby of The Ritz Hotel.

We had come for a personally arranged tour of William Kent House, the former 22 Arlington Street, that the Ritz acquired in 2005 and has splendidly refurbished into several suites and private function rooms. Following guidelines set down by English Heritage, it has preserved many of the original features from the time of the house’s construction in the 1740s by the architect William Kent for Sir Henry Pelham, Britain's third Prime Minister.  Our interest of course came from Kent's connections with Lord Burlington at Chiswick and his enormous influence on the design of both Chiswick House and its Gardens.

It was fascinating to see many 'Kentian' features as we progressed through the rooms; the ceiling decorations; the mirrors; the gilding and the mouldings, all of which we recognised from our studies at Chiswick. With his encyclopaedic knowledge of Kent and Burlington, Ricky Pound was able to fill us in on all sorts of background information that was also keenly noted by our guide from The Ritz.

For me perhaps the two most striking spaces were the eponymous banquet room with its sumptuous red wall coverings and richly decorated Kent ceiling (where we were told the Queen had celebrated her 80th Birthday) and, a feature that we don’t see at Chiswick, a magnificent internal staircase rising up past modern murals depicting 18th century society figures and other Kent buildings together with a portrait of the man himself 'centre stage'.

It was a marvellous treat made very special for us by the kindness and generosity of Sebastian Knoerr, the Head Assistant Manager, who greeted us so enthusiastically and went out of his way to show us everything he could.  

This visit was a follow on from our trips to Chatsworth, Stowe, and other London venues connected with Chiswick that has been such a rewarding 'spin off' from our volunteer house guiding under the umbrella of Chiswick House and Gardens Trust and which provide such useful background for our house tours. We are pictured in the Ritz's Marie Antoinette Suite, a suitably splendid setting.

Cathie James
Chiswick House and Gardens Trust Volunteer
May 2012


Image of the Chiswick House guides visiting William Kent House on 13 May 2012
Chiswick House Tour Guides at the Ritz

The dining room at The Ritz designed by William Kent
William Kent House at the Ritz: The Banqueting Room

The staircase at The Ritz designed by William Kent
William Kent House at the Ritz: The Staircase

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