Viewers to ITV’s drama series Victoria may have been surprised to hear several references to Chiswick in the opening episodes. They learned more about Queen Victoria’s connections with this part of London at the opening event of the Chiswick Book Festival, ‘Victoria in Fact & Fiction’, with Daisy Goodwin and AN Wilson.
Anna Wilson Jones, who plays Lady Portman in the series, read extracts from Victoria’s diary and there were several exhibits highlighting Queen Victoria’s connections with Chiswick. This exhibition, ‘Queen Victoria in Chiswick’, will shortly be displayed at Chiswick Library.
The centrepiece was a print of a large painting (above), ‘The Royal Garden Party at Chiswick’ by Louis William Desanges. It shows Queen Victoria with her family and 300 distinguished guests, each of whom is named in an accompanying key. It has not been displayed at Chiswick House for several years.
“Victoria visited Chiswick House at various stages of her life” says Torin Douglas, director of the Chiswick Book Festival. “While still a princess, she wrote in her diary about coming to the House – and later she was a regular visitor, when her eldest son the Prince of Wales was renting Chiswick House in the 1870s.”
The exhibition, ‘Queen Victoria in Chiswick’, also includes extracts from Victoria’s diaries, cuttings from The Times and the Illustrated London News and analysis by local historians. Former Chiswick House archivists, Gillian Clegg and Pamela Bater, have unearthed fascinating facts, as has Carolyn Hammond, the former local studies archivist at Chiswick Library.
Historian Deborah Cadbury (Princes At War) lives in Chiswick and is writing a book about Victoria and her children, Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking.
She says: “The image of a Royal Garden Party at Chiswick House gives an evocative snapshot of the royal family at the peak of their power. The picture highlights Victoria’s remarkable position as Europe’s great matriarch. She had nine children and most of them made dynastic marriages into Europe’s royal houses.”
The exhibition was displayed on Thursday September 15 2016, in the Burlington Pavilion at Chiswick House. It was kindly sponsored by Bown Design & Build. It will shortly be displayed at Chiswick Library.