On Wednesday 25 August, 27 members and guests of the Paviors’ Luncheon Club enjoyed a summer day out to Syon House in Middlesex, followed by a cruise on the River Thames. This visit had been twice postponed because of the Covid pandemic, so it was especially nice for participants to be able finally to meet each other in person after such a long time.

Syon House is one of several homes owned by the family of the Duke of Northumberland. It was built on the site of Syon Abbey and the Duke’s family, who are descendants of the historic ‘Percy’ family, acquired ownership towards the end of the sixteenth century, living there ever since.

Participants assembled in the Courtyard Restaurant of Syon House’s garden centre for a cup of coffee and a pastry to start the day’s proceedings. The opportunity was then taken for a brief walk around the some of the gardens and the Great Conservatory, all set in surroundings designed by Capability Brown.

The Paviors then enjoyed a one-hour tour of the House itself in the company of an excellent and knowledgeable tour guide who happened to be a liveryman in the Worshipful Company of Fletchers. The current interior of the property was designed and furnished by Robert Adam and room layouts were generally based on the shape of a cube. As you progress from room to room, you are struck by the complete contrast of decorative styles in adjacent rooms. They are alternately either very light in colour, or lavishly coloured and decorated. There were many historic family portraits that had been painted by famous artists of the day, and photographs of the current family at both formal and personal occasions. Listening to the history of the family and the house was like a summary of English history through the period.

At the end of the tour, when the guide had been suitably thanked, the party moved off by coach to Kingston, where it boarded the motor vessel, the ‘Richmond Royale’, at Turk’s Pier for a cruise on the River Thames. No sooner had the boat moved off than canapes and wine was served. The weather that day had been forecast to be dry and overcast but, instead, the whole afternoon was bathed in warm sunshine and an almost cloudless sky – a perfect day for cruising on the river. Lunch, consisting of salmon, salad and hot potatoes, was served followed by a wicked pudding. The party cruised down through Teddington lock to Richmond, turning just before reaching the Richmond half-lock. The boat then headed back upstream, past Kingston and Hampton Court, before turning just before Molesey Lock and returning to Kingston. Thanks were given to those responsible for organizing the day before boarding the coach back to Syon House where participants’ cars were parked.

The visit provided an excellent opportunity for Paviors to meet socially again after such a long time, and many thanks are due to Peter King and his team for making all the excellent arrangements for what turned out to be a most enjoyable day.