Danson House
Danson House
Danson House was built in 1766 by Sir Robert Taylor for Sir John Boyd, a wealthy merchant. It is one of the best examples of Palladian architecture in the country. Much of the interior was designed by William Chambers.


Sir John Boyd was a sugar merchant and high-ranking official in the British East India Company. He called in Taylor, architect of the Bank of England, to create a neoclassical villa as a rural retreat from the bustle of London. Today Bexley is part of the larger urban sprawl of London but in the mid-18th century it was a country idyll, close enough to London for business, but far enough to be a comfortable retreat.

Boyd wanted a house that not only expressed his wealth, but also his taste, a place where he could entertain in style, and a place to celebrate his recent marriage to Catherine Chapone.

Together Boyd and Taylor created a monument to the golden age of classical antiquity, a house filled with art and sculpture gathered on Boyd's extensive travels throughout Europe. The centrepiece of this glittering example of Palladian style was the octagonal salon, lined with gilded mirrors and decorated with hand-made wallpaper. The dining room is another highlight; with a series of 17 painted murals lining the walls. Throughout the interiors are symbols celebrating love and marriage, for it seems Sir John was besotted with his young second wife Catherine.

Boyd's son tore down the kitchen and stable wings and had a new stable block built to a design by George Dance the Younger. The younger Boyd sold the estate in 1807, and it passed through several owners until it was acquired by Bexley Urban Council in 1924. The park was opened to the public in 1925, and the house itself was used by the military during WWII. It was painstakingly restored by English Heritage from 1995 and opened to the public in 2005.

Danson House stands in a vast park, the largest public park in Bexley. The grounds and gardens were laid out from 1761 by Nathaniel Richmond, who learned his craft as an assistant to Capability Brown. The centrepiece of the gardens is a 12-acre lake to the south of the house. The house is just off the A2 and 6 miles from Junction 2 of the M25. The nearest rail stations are Bexleyheath and Welling, both a 20-minute walk away.