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Eleanor Coade and Chiswick House

Eleanor Coade (1733–1821) and Chiswick House, Greater London, Registered Grade I.

Eleanor Coade was a craftswoman and businesswoman making architectural decorations and garden ornaments from an artificial stone which became known as 'Coade Stone'. These statues, urns, fountains, animals and figures were of high quality and enduring material so much that Eleanor's name is still in common use.

The Italian Garden and conservatory with replica Coade Stone vases at Chiswick House

The Italian Garden and conservatory with replica Coade Stone vases at Chiswick House
© English Heritage

Eleanor worked from her factory at Lambeth and had a showroom at the end of Westminster Bridge. She published catalogues of her work. Coade Stone ornaments appear in 54 registered parks and gardens and individual pieces are often protected as listed structures. One of the finest sculptures is the River God at Ham House, London.

Chiswick House includes several Coade Stone pieces. Chiswick was an early 18th century villa and garden, largely the design of the third Earl of Burlington who from 1723 incorporated ideas and designs by William Kent. Developments were made from the late 18th century onwards, first by the fifth Duke of Devonshire and later by the sixth Duke. In 1812, the sixth Duke bought Moreton Hall, the neighbouring property to the east, demolished it and built a conservatory designed by Samuel Ware. 

Coade Stone vases in the conservatory at Chiswick

Coade Stone vases in the conservatory at Chiswick
© English Heritage

In 1814, in front of the conservatory, an Italian Garden was created by the landscape gardener, Lewis Kennedy, whose family owned the Vineyard Nurseries at nearby Hammersmith. The Italian garden has a formal layout with rows of Robinia pseudoacacia, the 'false' acacia tree, box-edged parterres filled with summer bedding schemes and the central path is flanked by replica Coade Stone vases. The original Coade Stone vases are in the conservatory.

English Heritage and the London Borough of Hounslow (owner of the gardens) established The Chiswick House and Gardens Trust as an independent charity to drive forward an ambitious rescue plan for the gardens and secure its future for the 21st century. A major restoration programme was completed in 2010. 

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