With green spaces, pretty riverside pubs and French-style cheese and vintage markets, Chiswick is as close to an English village as you can find just six miles from the centre of London. Here, Chiswick local Judith Baker takes you on a tour around her beloved neighbourhood…
Things to Do, attractions, Shops & Restaurants
In Georgian times Chiswick House welcomed luminaries at lavish parties hosted by socialite Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire who called Chiswick her ‘earthly paradise’. Lord Burlington’s neo Palladian Villa (1729) and Italian gardens still form Chiswick’s heart today where events such as Pub in the Park, live music concerts, circuses and quirky artisan Duck Pond market entertain.
Chiswick Book Festival
The Devonshires may have moved out in Regency times but the area is still popular with celebrities and you may spot a familiar face while strolling through the park or down the street, especially during the annual Chiswick Book Festival which has been described as ‘a small but perfectly formed festival in a chic pocket of West London’. The Chiswick Writers Trail features 21 writers poets and playwrights who have lived in the area including Harold Pinter, John Osborne, William Thackeray, Nancy Mitford and EM Forster.
Chiswick High Road
Although Chiswick High Road has suffered as much as many high streets during the pandemic, new independent shops, coffee houses and eating places are opening all the time.
The cheese market, antique and vintage market and flower market which take place at alternating weekends are creating a new buzz. They take place in front of the George IV pub and lovely antique bookshop Fosters, which has been called the most Instagrammable shop front in the country.
Newcomers include the sophisticated Indian Republic, and families will find reliable chains such as Nandos, Zizzi, Pizza Express and Five Guys.
Along the River Thames – a self-guided tour
Starting at Chiswick Pier head to Chiswick Mall. St Nicholas Parish Church here dates from the 1880s. Pause at the tomb of artist William Hogarth who spent his last years in nearby Hogarth’s House and died in 1764. Also in the adjoining burial ground are the tombs of artist JM Whistler (1903) and Italian poet Ugo Foscolo (1827).
Old Chiswick grew up around the church in the 12th century. The Old Burlington (1550) on Church Street is now a private house but was once a busy inn still visited, story has it, by a ghostly presence. Digress briefly to turn left at the top of Church Street to Chiswick Square, now facing the un-lovely Hogarth roundabout, but otherwise representative of how the area looked in Georgian times. It inspired the opening scene of Vanity Fair by W.M Thackray who completed the novel in Walpole House on Chiswick Mall.
Back on Chiswick Mall you pass a number of imposing Regency houses including Red Lion House, once a busy inn facing the dry dock.
Fullers Brewery & Riverside Pubs
Fullers Griffin Brewery, opened by Fuller Smith and Turner in 1845 is now owned by the Japanese Asahi Group. The adjacent Lamb Brewery was sold to Fullers in the 1920s. Mawson Arms (which is currently closed) was once the home of poet Alexander Pope.
There are regular tours of the brewery which include beer tastings and every autumn an Open Day sees majestic brewery dray horses make an appearance in their finery.
This area was once a hot bed of artistic output, with William Morris and his mentor, Emery Walker both having homes here.
Emery Walker’s house at seven Hammersmith Terrace is open to the public. The charming Grade II listed Dove pub at the end of Upper Mall is where Rule Britannia was written by James Thompson in 1740 and boasts one of the smallest bars in London. Stop for a drink on the terrace in summer or in the cosy lounge with a roaring fire in winter.
For more information on walking along the River Thames visit thames-path.org.uk.
Shop Local: Chiswick Business Guide – Promoted Content
1 The Pink Elephant
Whether you’re putting on a spread for a wedding, work function, family celebration or just a luxurious picnic in the park, The Pink Elephant’s platters and catering boxes are filled with delicious sweet and savoury treats. The Chiswick-based small business started off as a passion project, founded by Ian Henderson who wanted to share his love of entertaining, food and travel. Choose from the Signature Safari, Safari Sunrise Brunch or the Safari Sunshine Tea Party platters which include tasty morsels inspired by Ian’s travels and African childhood. In time for festive celebrations, The Pink Elephant’s Festive Safari boxes and platters can cater to groups of four people up to 40. With products sourced from other small local businesses, these boxes include a selection of artisan cheeses, European charcuterie, roast beef and horseradish brioche buns, homemade brownies, red velvet cupcakes, nougat truffles and seasonal fruit.
Phone: 0790 165 6286