When Shelley was ten, he was sent off to study at the Syon House Academy—a site which we located more as a matter of serendipity than scholarship. We knew that the school was located in Islesworth, on the Great Western Road in Thames Valley. We assumed that it would be near the great Syon House estate for which it had been named. But no one at the Syon park had heard anything of the establishment. As we drove around the park, we noticed a preparatory school, and checked with the administrators there. No one knew of the academy, but one teacher told us she remembered seeing a plaque on one of the brick walls surrounding Syon House park.
We proceeded on foot around the perimeters of the estate, searching vainly for the plaque. As we searched, however, we went past a large brick building—several times. It was called "Syon Lodge" and seemed to be roughly the right age and size. The main building was given over to offices, while the old stable area, kitchen, and walled garden were used as a showroom by "Crowther of Syon Lodge," a purveyor of antique replicas that has occupied the site for over 65 years. Despite its careful upkeep, the box-like structure seemed fairly grim, and it was easy to imagine the site as the place Shelley considered such a prison.