Wyevale Garden Centres

History of Syon Park

History of Syon Park

Syon Abbey had become renowned for its spiritual learning, public preaching and library. It was favoured and visited by King Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon but it got embroiled in the religious turmoil of the King's divorce and his subsequent action of making himself Supreme Head of the Church in England. The Father Confessor, of the nuns, Richard Reynolds, could not accept the King's supremacy and was brutally executed in 1535, his body placed on the abbey gateway. He was later canonised as a martyr.

In 1547, King Henry VIII's coffin was brought to Syon on its way to Windsor for burial. It burst open during the night and in the morning dogs were found licking up the remains! This was regarded as a divine judgement for the King's desecration of Syon Abbey.

After the closure of the abbey, Syon became the property of the Crown for a short time before coming into the possession of the 1st Duke of Somerset. He then directed Syon to be built in the Italian Renaissance style before his death in 1552. Syon then was acquired by Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, in 1594 and has remained in his family ever since.

But it was on 4 November 1605, that the Earl's fortunes declined literally overnight! A distant cousin, Thomas Percy, who was a staunch Roman Catholic, dined with the Earl at Syon before joining Guy Fawkes and his accomplices the next day, in the attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. As one of the principal '˜gunpowder plotters', Thomas was shot trying to make his escape. Although innocent of the charges brought against him, the Earl was implicated through his association with Thomas and the fateful meeting at Syon. He was confined in the Tower of London for the next 15 years on the orders of King James I.

In the 18th century, Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland, commissioned architect and interior designer Robert Adam and landscape designer Lancelot Brown to redesign the house and estate.

In 1951 the Syon house was opened to the public for the first time under the 10th Duke and Duchess. Later, in 1995 under the 12th Duke, the family rooms became open to the public as well.