Sales of ‘beautiful book’ vital in supporting Gunnersbury estate

Friends of Gunnersbury Park and Museum have been encouraging park-goers to buy a ‘beautiful book’ about the estate’s history.

Using three decades of research, Friends of Gunnersbury Park & Museum have collaborated with Scala, a specialist publisher for museums and art galleries, to make the book a reality.

Described as “The story of the place and the people” is told using local and specialist archives, images from the museum collection, archaeology and oral history. It is richly illustrated, with maps, paintings, prints and photographs making it feel interactional for readers.

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Images above: a watercolour painting by William Payne in 1792, on display in Gunnersbury Park Museum (left) and a photograph of a gathering at the 1926 public opening, where Neville Chamberlain gave a speech (right).

“We’ve been gathering information about the estate for 30 odd years so we’ve got fantastic information. We thought that when the museum was reopening, the one thing they really ought to have in their shop was a little book about the estate.” Val Bott, a co-author of the book, told The Chiswick Calendar.

“We wanted to produce something beautiful, and Scala produced a beautiful book. They specialise in heritage books and they use fabulous paper, good designers and everything is illustrated.

“It absolutely isn’t a guidebook, it’s a story. Everything you read in the book and see in the pictures relates to things you would see on-site. You can still see part of the 17th century Garden Wall, you can still see the 18th century Royal Garden and we’ve talked about the way the landscape has changed. There’s also lovely historical maps and watercolours in the book so you can stand in the park, with the book and imagine what it was once like.”

The book takes the story of the park from the Middle Ages, when Gunnersbury initially belonged to the powerful mistress of a medieval king, covering centuries of history up until the present day. The book marks the completion of the recent and extensive conservation programme, leading up to the park’s centenary in 2026.

The book was being sold in the Gunnersbury cafe & museum which brought in a steady level of sales.  Unfortunately due to the coronavirus pandemic and last month’s fire, the cafe is in ruins and is still considered a crime scene, blocking off a vital stream of revenue for the foreseeable future.

“The burning down of the cafe is a real disappointment as they were about to re-open for takeaway which would have increased sales. We lost stock too, around 200 copies” Val said.

With sales now nearly completely online, Friends of Gunnersbury hope they can increase the online footfall so they can continue their support of Gunnersbury estate.

If you would like to buy the book, go to the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society at:

brentfordandchiswicklhs.org.uk

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

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