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CHISWICK
Description and History from 1868 Gazetteer

CHISWICK, a parish in the Kensington division of the hundred of Ossulstone, in the county of Middlesex, forming a sort of peninsula, nearly surrounded by the river Thames, 7 miles by road, and 5 miles by the South-Western railway, from London.

Chiswick is first mentioned in a record of the reign of Henry III.; and about the year 1731 a Roman urn and some silver coins were found at Turnham Green. There are two large breweries in Chiswick, and on the opposite side of the river are the water-works of the West Middlesex Company. The island opposite Chiswick is the first to be met with up the Thames. Along the bank of the river are several wharves and maltings. The parish contains 1,311 acres, with a population of 6,504, embracing all classes of society. At Turnham Green and other choice situations are many pleasant villa residences, but in the densely populated district of Chiswick New Town are a great number of poor. The green has recently been enclosed by subscription, and a drinking-fountain erected at the sole expense of J. P. Bull, Esq. Many local improvements in the drainage and paving of the town have recently been undertaken by the Chiswick Improvement Commissioners, who are constituted a board under a special Act of Parliament. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of London, gross value 550, in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's. The church, which is dedicated to St. Nicholas, has a very ancient tower, and a recent examination of the structure has revealed a very handsome roof of the 12th or 13th century, which had been concealed by a plaster ceiling. It is much to be regretted that the vestry have resolved to destroy this fine relic of antiquity, which Mr. Scott, the architect, says might well be restored. The church, however, is unsafe till repaired, and is at present closed. It contains some old and interesting monuments; and has two very handsome stained-glass windows. Sir John Chardin, the traveller, is buried in Chiswick churchyard; and there are monuments to Hogarth, who lived near Chiswick Field, in Hogarth-lane; to Chaloner, who worked the first alum-works in England; to Holland, the actor; Lord Macartney; the Duchesses of Cleveland and Somerset; the Countess of Falconberg, Cromwell's third daughter, who died at Sutton Court; Rose, the translator of "Sallust; "Loutherbourg, the painter; Kent, the landscape painter; Ralph, a political writer and Dunciad hero; Sharp, the engraver; Ugo Foscolo, the Italian patriot and author, and numerous other persons of eminence. There are also two other churches, viz., Christ Church, Turnham Green, a district parish church under the Marquis of Blandford's Act, in the patronage of the Bishop of London; it was built in 1843 chiefly by subscription, at a cost, with endowment, of 6,000, and is a good specimen of Gothic architecture; the other, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, is an elegant stone structure, erected in 1848 at the expense of J. C. Sharpe, Esq. Chiswick is principally famous for the nursery gardens of the Horticultural Society of London, in which are raised all kinds of shrubs and flowers for the adornment of the new gardens at Kensington. Adjoining these nursery gardens is Chiswick House, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, who owns a very large portion of the parish, which chiefly consists of market gardens. Chiswick House was built on the site of a house in which Sir Robert Carr, King James I.'s favourite, lived, in imitation of the Capra Villa, from a design by Earl Burlington. It has a double approach by two flights of stone steps, with a portico, and is crowned by an eight-sided dome; since Kent completed it, wings have been added by Wyatt. It contains some matchless works of art-as Charles I. and family, by Vandyck; Lord Clifford, date 1444, by Van Eyck; Rembrandt in his painting-room, by Douw; Belisarius, by Murillo; a Madonna, by Domenichino; Aois and Galatea, by Giordano; portrait of Mary Queen of Scots, by Zucchero, with many more by other celebrated masters, besides a fine collection of drawings and some sculpture, among which is the Hebe of Canova. The ornamental water in the park is supplied by the Thames. The gate of Beaufort House, Sir Thomas More's seat at Chelsea, is in the grounds; on it are inscribed some lines by Pope. The Emperor Alexander visited Chiswick House in 1815; and there both Fox and Canning died. There is also a mansion called Grove End, situated on the Thames, the western end of which is the terminating point of the Oxford and Cambridge rowing matches.

[Description(s) from "The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland" (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson 2003]
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[Last updated on 9 Oct 2003 by David Hawgood. 2003]