Have you ever wondered what significance the name of the tube station between Osterley and Northfields on the route down to Heathrow holds? Boston Manor takes its name from the large country house which still sits a few hundred yards away from the station. Originally built in 1622 for Dame Mary Reade (who, when she remarried would enter the Spencer family), it is a fine example of a red brick manor house with a range and stable block to one side, and is set within attractive grounds which are now known as Boston Manor Park.
Boston Manor House has been owned by the local council since the 1920s and has recently been reopened to the public, although opening hours are restricted to weekends at the moment. The house has partially refurbished rooms on the ground floor – the best feature is the fine multi-coloured ceiling moulding in the large reception room at the rear of the building, and you’ll also find a fine fireplace and information displays in the dining room. The most interesting parts of the house, however, are on the upper floors – pass through the imposing wooden screen in the reception area and climb the stairs (noting the French trompe l’oeil design on the wall echoing the ballustrades on the other side – a very rare feature in a British house) and you’ll find yourself in the State Drawing Room. This room features some of the most extravagant ceiling mouldings in London – geometric patterns inset with maidens representing the elements and the virtues. It also has one of the capital’s most breathtaking fireplaces, allthough perhaps more suited to a grand palace than a fairly modest manor house!
The finds don’t end here either – while the upper part of the building is mostly closed off to the public, you can climb up to the next landing and examine the surviving fragment of the exquisite wallpaper that would once have lined the entire staircase. Dating from the early 1700s it depicts imagined scenes of classic Greece or Italy – the wallpaper would have been hand-painted on large sheets off-site and then brought to the manor house to be assembled and set in place.
Boston Manor House is just a few hundred yards from the tube station of the same name – the grounds are open every day and you can visit the house from 12pm until 5pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. I recommend a visit, not least because of the extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers that you’ll meet. There’s more information about Boston Manor House on the Friends of Boston Manor website, and you can find the remaining photographs of my visit here.