Gunnersbury

News at Thorgills | 02/01/2019


Gunnersbury lies at the heart of our West London patch, bordering Ealing to the north, Chiswick to the south east and Brentford to the south west, and has been occupied for around a thousand years.

The settlement began as a small site, possibly consisting only of a manor house and its attached dwellings. Its name has mixed origins. The first part derives from one of its’ early occupants, Gunnhildr or Gunylda, the niece of King Canute – the Danish king who ruled England from 1016 to 1035 – who lived there until her exile from England in 1044. The suffix “-bury”, meanwhile, is Saxon and refers to the manor house itself.

Gunnersbury remained only a small settlement for much of the medieval period. Little is known about its history at this time, other than that the manor house passed into the ownership of the Bishop of London.

Gunnersbury as we know it today truly began to develop in the seventeenth century. Sir John Maynard, a politician and contemporary of Oliver Cromwell, acquired the lands around the manor and built Gunnersbury House around 1663.

The site changed hands a few times in the first half of the eighteenth century before being sold to Princess Amelia, daughter of George II, in 1760. Until her death in 1786, Amelia conducted several landscaping projects across the estate and it became famous for hosting her parties and political gatherings.

In 1801, the estate’s new owner John Morley decided to pull the mansion down and sell the land in smaller plots. One buyer, Alexander Copland, bought twelve of the thirteen plots and built a mansion on the site – these collectively became known as Gunnersbury Park. The remaining plot held a small mansion and was known as Gunnersbury House.

The Rothschild family took over both Gunnersbury Park and Gunnersbury House in the nineteenth century, buying the former in 1835 and the latter in 1889. They extended the northern and southwestern borders of the park and added the Potomac Lake and an adjacent Gothic folly.

In 1925 the Rothschilds sold the park to Ealing and Acton Borough Councils for £130,000. Although the boroughs’ residents complained that they did not need to buy the park, the councils got an excellent deal – had the Rothschilds sold the land for housing the price would have been much higher due to a shortage of suitable sites for development. After the park was opened by Neville Chamberlain on 21st May 1926, public opinion towards Gunnersbury Park became more positive and today it is one of West London’s most popular parks.

In June 2018, Gunnersbury Park re-opened the large mansion after a four year, multi-million pound restoration project. Many of the structures within the park were restored including the Orangery, Temple, Bath-house and Gothic ruins, as well as the Horseshoe Lake and the Round Pond. A new phase is planned to complete this spring and seeks to improve the park’s sporting facilities.

Modern-day Gunnersbury is not limited to just the manor’s grounds.

From 1921 it hosted the London General Omnibus Company’s overhaul facility, which was redeveloped as the Chiswick Business Park in 2001 and now plays home to numerous well-known

companies including CBS News, Technicolor, Discovery Channel Europe, Singapore Airlines and Qantas.

The 18-storey building on the Chiswick High Road is perhaps its most recognisable structure, towering over Gunnersbury station. Constructed in 1966, it was formerly named the BSI Building after its first occupants, but now hosts a number of companies and is known as Chiswick Tower

To the east of the business park is Gunnersbury Nature Reserve, a quiet area of woodland supporting numerous species of birds, animals and plants.

The majority of housing in Gunnersbury is pre-war, and almost every type of property is available including conversion flats and terraced houses alongside characterful detached and semi-detached houses.

If you’re interested in moving to Gunnersbury, or you have a property to sell or let there, contact our Chiswick team today on 020 8994 9886.