Our History » The arrival of the Percy Family
The Arrival of the Percy Family
On the dissolution of the Abbey, Syon reverted to royal control, and the funeral cortege of Henry VIII rested at Syon on the journey from London to Windsor, the bloated corpse famously exploding overnight. Syon then passed to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset who initiated the process of transforming the Abbey complex into a grand private house. Gardens were laid out and a plant collection was developed by his physician, the radical botanist and equally radical theologian, William Turner.
In 1594 Syon passed by marriage to Henry Percy, the 9th Earl of Northumberland. By this time the House was essentially the building standing today, and Henry and his son Algernon surrounded it with grand formal gardens in the French style. In 1605 the Earl was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot, and confined in the Tower for seventeen years, where he lived in some style and spent a considerable sum on the refurbishment of Syon.
The Civil War passed Syon in 1642, as the royalist forces marched past on their way to the battle of Brentford, and there were skirmishes around the Park. In 1647 the three younger royal children were kept at Syon, where they were visited by their father from his captivity at Hampton Court.
On the death of the 11th Earl in 1670, the Percy estates passed to his daughter Elizabeth, who married Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset. They were both very active at Court, and Queen Anne gave birth while staying at Syon in 1692. The House was decorated with gilt leather and damask hangings, while its surrounding landscape was dominated by a series of avenues of lime trees, as shown on the Fairchild map of 1741.
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