Relaxed, elegant and surprisingly rural, it’s hard to believe that Chiswick is within London’s zone 2. Much of its fame comes from the annual Oxford and Camrbidge Boat Race, when all the world clusters on Barnes Bridge to cheer on their chosen shade of blue.
When I first heard about this part of town from a friend, I must confess to having gone a bit blank. I’d lived in London for ten years, and I had no real concept of the place. My mistake! Chiswick is lovely, it’s uncrowded, it’s green and there’s a sense of festivity that only being built along one of the world’s greatest rivers can bring. It’s not just the rowers, although they’re shooting up and down all year round, all sorts of boats chug past, there are gulls, geese and even the odd heron.
The name Chiswick is thought to derive from ‘Cheese Farm’ – an annual fair on Dukes Meadows. This land, sloping down to the Thames, remains protected; an actual meadow so close to the centre of London seems an impossibility, but there it is, grassy knolls, birdsong and all. For more manicured delights, nearby Chiswick House, built in 1729, is a true English country pile. Stroll through the hot houses, admire the Palladian architecture and then retreat to the café for a well-earned cream tea.
Chiswick’s charm lies in its combination of country village and capital city. The houses, especially down by the river, are tall and stately, and interspersed which almost absurdly romantic pubs; the view from the balcony of the Old Ship may just have you leaping to propose.
I love a decent farmers’ market, and Chiswick’s is one of the best I’ve found. Held in the grounds of Grove Park Farm House, you can buy fresh fish, cheese and organic veg direct from the producers. And then, on the first Sunday of every month, I head on to the car boot sale at Chiswick Community School, one of the largest in England. For the uninitiated, car boot sales are giant, unruly markets, where you can buy anything from an old CD rack to a Clarice Cliff jug. Chiswick being a pretty affluent spot, I’ve found it especially good for fashion; I’ve picked up spotless cashmere cardigans for less than a fiver. Having said that, you’ll need to be a pretty dedicated bargain hunter. With literally hundreds of stalls to rootle through, allow yourself plenty of time.
So a strong community, then, and one that’s ready to welcome you. You could commute out from the centre of London, but why not take advantage of all this space and that proximity to the river and bed down alongside the lucky locals?
One Fine Stay, a company offering a clever hotel alternative, has no fewer than five homes in Chiswick, from pretty two bedroom flats right up to five bedroom Victorian mansions.
My thanks for this article to One Fine Stay where you can stay in a unique London home – article written by Harriet Levy
More things to see in West London
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