At Chiswick in west London, overlooking the River Thames, a modest seventeenth century house underwent a radical rebuilding programme under the direction of Richard Boyle, the 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork (1694 -1753). By the age of 32, Lord Burlington was an accomplished architect, and with the help of William Kent and others, endeavoured to express his personal vision of antiquity in the grounds at Chiswick.
Today’s Chiswick House and Gardens are mostly the creation of Richard Boyle, often referred to as ‘The Architect Earl’. The House is an internationally renowned neo-palladian masterpiece, and the gardens widely considered to be the first expression of the British Landscape Garden Movement. The overall plot, now 65 acres, was smaller in 1729, when the villa was completed, and the subsequent purchases of adjoining land by his heirs has added to, but did not significantly change the Earl’s early vision. Lord Burlington was an intellectual, a leader of early 18th century thinking: Horace Walpole referred to him as “Apollo of the Arts”.