Hats off to our fabulous volunteers!

As a charity, we rely on an incredible team of volunteers to conserve our historic, horticultural and natural heritage for our visitors, sustain and improve our biodiversity and support our local community’s health and wellbeing.

Thanks to the time, skills and dedication of our volunteers we are able to keep the Gardens looking beautiful, so we can welcome our visitors with warmth and knowledge and tackle some of the challenges we face in Hounslow through our thriving community programme. In this blog, Philippa Markou reflects on her first seven months as our volunteer coordinator and the enormous impact our volunteers make.

It truly has been a treat to see the volume, scale and variety of work that our volunteers do. What a privilege I feel it is to be in this role, witnessing the contributions of so many motivated by their love and respect of the House and Gardens and for all that we offer to the community.

Since I joined the Trust in May, more than 132 volunteers have completed over 1413 shifts. This amounts to 5367 hours of voluntary work, spanning a range of roles: gardener, ranger, visitor welcome, tour-guide, beekeeper, retail, archive work and community projects. So much of the work impresses me, but here some highlights!

Garden Projects

Every so often, the garden team lead the volunteers on bigger, focused project areas. This requires a few days of concentrated input, and the results are often impressive and impactful.

Lime Grove Trimming:

Image: Lime Grove Trimming

The Rosary Project: when rhododendrons received a healthy cut back letting in light and bringing considered structure:


Autumnal floristry: collaborative efforts going into new initiatives such as the making of autumnal wreaths and dried flower bouquets available for sale. All profits support the work of the Trust.

Image: Autumnal wreaths and bouquets. By Andre Pattenden

Glasshouse maintenance: In addition to the larger projects, the day-to-day tasks carried out by our volunteers also have an incredible impact on our productive growing spaces.

The Glasshouse, July 2023. Image by Andre Pattenden

Harvesting produce: there is a particular joy and energy surrounding a Kitchen Garden during our peak harvest season.

The careful measuring and preparation of produce for sale and donation to food charities.

The pride in selling the abundant harvested fruits and vegetables with all profits supporting the work of the Trust.

Image: Produce cart by Chris Frost.

There’s also a great beauty in watching the Kitchen Garden volunteers prepare the beds for winter.

Visitor welcome: our Visitor Welcome Volunteers enhance the experience of visitors between May and October. They bring our history alive and point out aspects of Burlington and Kent’s collaboration which would otherwise be missed.

Conservation: the care of the buildings and grounds is very much down to a mix of volunteers – our Rangers, Visitor Welcome and Gardening Teams all play a part.

The Rangers day-to-day maintenance and rounds keep a certain order in place and they contribute so many skills and hours of vigilant scanning to keep everyone safe and help the smooth running of the House and Gardens.

Our volunteer roles are so varied, with volunteers helping in the archive and with even with beekeeping!

Corporate volunteering

A team from Menzies came in early summer. They enjoyed meeting and spending time with members of the company that were from separate divisions who’d they’d not necessarily met in person before. The trimmed the lime trees along Dukes Ave and smartened up our main entrance to the house and gardens. The fact that two teams worked on opposite sides of the avenue resulted in a fun, competitive spirit.

Butter Wakefield, a small, local landscaping company came to spend half a day learning from our garden team whilst clearing back a corner of the Italian garden. They helped make a part of the garden that will one day line the gate way to our yard and kitchen garden, look more presentable and structured.

Finally, in the early autumn, Sipsmith enjoyed a morning in the wider gardens, stripping ivy from the historic Italian garden wall and then an afternoon of fun preparing beds for winter in the kitchen garden.

Garden Together sessions

Over half term, many children attended our Garden Together sessions. They planted thousands of bulbs with great efficiency, leaning the reasons behind the methods to their planting. They left with a spirit of excitement to return in the Spring months to see the resulting daffodils that will grow in the Italian Garden and around the Rosary. Hopefully we have inspired some horticulturalists of the future.

Garden together Wednesdays

Here’s what our volunteers have said about why the volunteer with us and what they enjoy about being here:

Concha – Gardener and community volunteer:

I love to be outside and work in nature and I’m keen on conservation. It’s great to connect with people with the same kind of interests. I find the garden team so keen to share their knowledge with us. I’m learning all the time. I used to come to the gardens all the time with my children, it was like a second living room, so it’s great to give back.

Susanna – Visitor Welcome volunteer.

I really enjoy interacting with visitors and giving them a few insights. It’s a real change from my normal work. It’s really great to contribute in a beautiful place. I believe heritage is really important. I think Chiswick house has an intriguing history and I feel proud to show it off and I’m lucky to be a part of what’s keeping it going.

Thank you volunteers!

I really do mean it when I say I’m surrounded by joy and dedication and feel so lucky to be a part of this incredible setting within such a positive community of givers. Thank you to our volunteer team for enhancing one of London’s jewels and augmenting the experience of all our visitors to the House and Gardens.

If this has inspired you to volunteer with us in 2024, please email me at vounteering@chgt.org.uk. Or find out more here.

Please consider supporting us to help run our volunteering programme by becoming a Member for just £1 a week.