At the end of this path is one of the key features of Chiswick’s garden, a series of radiating avenues forms known as a patte d’oie, or ‘goosefoot.’ It probably dates from 1716 and has been restored to its original appearance. Each avenue ends in an ‘eye-catcher’ – an ornamental building intended to draw the eye to the end of each vista. Today, you can see a rustic house and a Doric column, although only the rustic house is original from Burlington’s time.
The large lawn behind Chiswick House is closed at one end by a dramatic semi-circular hedge known as the exedra. Here, you can see a recreation of Burlington’s collection of 18th-century sculpture, including copies of antique figures said to be the ancient Roman figures of Caesar, Pompey and Cicero. They were brought back from Rome by Lord Burlington and the originals are now inside the House. The statues of the lion and lioness, completed about 1733, were probably sculpted by Flemish sculptor Pieter Scheemakers.
This area of the garden also features Cedar of Lebanon trees, planted nearly three hundred years ago. Lord Burlington was amongst the first aristocrats to introduce this type of tree to an English garden. The trees alternate with stone urns, which have played their small part in the history of pop music: in 1966, they were the backdrop to promotional videos for The Beatles’ singles, ‘Paperback Writer’ and ‘Rain.’ You can see pictures of their video shoot on display panels in the conservatory.
Throughout their history, the gardens at Chiswick have been a magnet for the rich and famous. In 1811, the 6th Duke of Devonshire inherited the house. Known as ‘The Bachelor Duke,’ he laid on lavish entertainments, attended by many distinguished visitors, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who visited in 1842. Part of the guests’ amusement probably came from the Duke’s large collection of exotic animals he kept here.