When completed in 1729 the purpose of Lord Burlington's villa at Chiswick confused his contemporaries (for example, Lord Harvey referred to it as "too small to live in and too large to hang to ones watch chain’’). Never designed to be a domestic residence (there were no bedrooms or kitchens) it was a structure which operated, in part, as art gallery, architectural experiment and grand garden building (or folly).
Research over the last twenty years have raised two more tantalising possibilities regarding the purpose of the villa. Firstly, the ceiling paintings within many of the rooms are so full of Masonic and Hermetic symbolism that it is argued that the villa may have functioned as a private Masonic lodge for use by Burlington and his friends to perform Masonic ritual (it is known that many of Lord Burlington's associates were Freemasons’ and Burlington and William Kent are also believed to have belonged to the Masonic fraternity). In addition, several of the interiors within the villa have proportions significant to Freemasonry, derived from buildings described in the Bible; information that would have been intelligible to Freemasons of the eighteenth-
The second purpose of the villa concerns Lord Burlington's political loyalties. Traditionally viewed as a Whig peer in support of the newly installed Hanoverian monarchy, recent research has suggested that Lord Burlington’s true, but hidden loyalties, lay with the deposed House of Stuart who were known as 'the Kings over the Water'. The existence of Jacobite (the name given to the supporters of the exiled Stuarts) symbolism within the architecture and art of Chiswick House gives legitimacy to these findings. With regard to these political leanings Chiswick House has been argued to be a symbolic palace awaiting the envisaged return of the House of Stuart.
The secret symbols tour will examine both of these themes and explore the Masonic, Hermetic, Cabalistic and Jacobite symbolism that pervades the decorations and room proportions within the villa. The tour will explain how the villa may have functioned as a sacred space defined as a Masonic lodge (or Temple) for Lord Burlington and his friends and it will examine the presence of early astrological Holy Royal Arch Masonic symbolism in the Red Velvet Room ceiling, together with some of the earliest evidence of the most important Masonic legend of all-
The tour will then progress into the gardens and examine the Masonic and political symbolism encoded within the surrounding landscape. Such allusions would have been understood by Freemasons in Lord Burlington’s circle.
Secret symbolism tours are suitable for groups interested in symbolism, Freemasonry, Jacobite history, Masonic lodges and groups interested in eighteenth century interior design.
A group is classed as between 11 and 25 people and is charged at £15.00 per person To book this tour please email me at the email address below and I will email you a booking form (this price includes admission to the house and the guided tour of house and gardens).
See examples of past events which I have guided:
Secret Symbolism Tour of Chiswick House and Gardens
|Three garden tours at Chiswick House|
|Guided Tours of Chiswick House and Gardens|
|Chiswick House Secret Symbolism Tour (Jacobite & Masonic)|
|William Kent at Chiswick House|
|Mythological Tours of Chiswick House and Gardens|
|Chiswick House Gardens Tour|
|Marble Hill House Tours|
|Chiswick House & Marble Hill House Prices and Information|
|Chiswick House & Marble Hill House Enquiries|
|Chiswick House Secret Symbols Tour Quotes|
|Chiswick House Testimonials (1)|
|Chiswick House Testimonials (2)|
|Chiswick House Testimonial (3)|
|Chiswick House Testimonials (4)|
|Selective Reading List|
|Frontispiece to 'The Builder's Jewel'|
|Jade: some simple facts|
|Summer Parlour and Meissen|
|The Garden Room and Meissen Porcelain (2)|
|The Garden Room and Meissen Porcelain (3)|
|Local Historic Attractions|