Syon Park Excavation – The Gardener’s Tale: How ‘Little Syon’ was re-discoveredMay 17, 2012 About my museum job, Adult events at our Museums, Archaeology, Blogs, Syon Park Excavation
Following on from our blog posts And he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down… and At the first sign of trouble, find out what else has been happening at Syon Park.
The existence of Sir Richard Wynn’s house (Little Syon) has been carefully brought back to light through the hard work of Simon Hadleigh-Sparks, a gardener at Syon Park. In his spare time he spends hours in Syon’s archive uncovering the wealth of documentary evidence kept there. Here he tells us how he first stumbled across Sir Richard Wynn’s House:
Little Syon was a grand private house situated on London Road, that is now within the grounds of Syon Park land, and that has sadly been forgotten about over time. Many locals and Syon workers will not be at all aware of its existence, even though it played an important part of Syon and Brentford history for 226 years.
I first heard about the house when I was doing some research on the internet, looking-up another project, when I saw the Little Syon painting (see below; image courtesy of London Metropolitan Archives). I took it upon myself to discover what I could about this little known part of Syon’s history.
You will see from this painting that the frontage has a striking resemblance to Syon House (below) which may explain how it came to be known as Little Syon.
What first sparked my interest was of course the name ‘Little Syon’ and also that it was the only section of land not owned by the Syon Dukes for most of the building’s lifetime. It’s a bit of a mystery why the Little Syon site was separate; a possible reason is the land was given to the Nuns when Mary 1st wanted to rebuild the abbey at Syon (which was dissolved under Henry VIII in 1539). The plot was eventually rejoined with the parkland in 1818 AD, but the house itself was demolished shortly afterwards.
Even now very little is known of the building and its history but I am honoured that my research and discoveries to date are being used by the Museum of London team and my initial research has been the driving force behind the archaeological project for this year.
I have done most of my research online and looking through the Duke of Northumberland’s archives and records held here at Syon. It is a treasure trove of information from which I hope to discover more (for example this map of the house, below).
I also hope to obtain some more info from the Duke’s Alnwick Castle archives, as they now hold a large amount of Syon’s records. Plus the results of excavation are invaluable!
Researching Little Syon has only fuelled my interest in Syon Park and the unknown aspects of its history. I will continue to explore and research the parkland, and look forward to my future discoveries!