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London Travel Guide

  • Photo: Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock

The Thames Upstream

On the banks of the Thames just west of central London, far enough out to escape the crush and crowds you’ve probably just started to get used to, Chiswick is a low-key, upscale district, content with its run of restaurants, stylish shops, and film-star residents. No doubt its most famous son wouldn’t approve of all the

conspicuous wealth, though; Chiswick was home to one of Britain’s best-loved painters, William Hogarth, who tore the fabric of the 18th-century nation to shreds with his slew of satirical engravings. Hogarth’s House has been restored to its former glory. Incongruously stranded among Chiswick’s row houses are a number of fine 18th-century buildings, which are now some of the most desirable suburban houses in London. By far the grandest of all is Chiswick House, a unique Palladian-style mansion born from the third Earl of Burlington’s love of classical and Renaissance architecture—a radical style at the time.

Named after the (long-vanished) palace Henry VII started here in 1500, Richmond is still a welcoming suburb with a small-town feel, marred only by choking levels of traffic. Duck away from the main streets to find many handsome Georgian and Victorian houses, antiques shops, a Victorian theater, a grand stately home—and, best of all, the largest of London's royal parks.The upper stretch of the Thames links a string of fashionable districts—Chiswick, Kew, Richmond, and Putney—with winding old streets, horticultural delights, cozy riverside pubs, and Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace. The neighborhoods along the way are as proud of their villagey feel as of their stately history, witnessed by such handsome estates as Strawberry Hill and Syon House. After the sensory overload of the West End, it's easy to forget you're in a capital city at all.

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Explore The Thames Upstream

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Fodor's London 2015

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