While Sir John Soane’s labyrinthine central London treasure trove of a house is very well known, less familiar is his country home to the west of the city.
But it seems that is about to change.
Pitzhanger Manor House in now-suburban Ealing has been awarded
nearly £9m in grants for a restoration programme which will see the
property closed for three years to recreate Sir John's original vision of
his weekend residence.
Pitzhanger was his 'dream home', a
Regency villa created by the architect and surveyor to the Bank of
England after he bought the property in 1800. He demolished most of
the existing manor, apart from an extension designed in 1768 by his
first employer, George Dance.
Following its completion in 1804, the
Soanes used Pitzhanger as a weekend retreat and a place of
entertainment. It also accommodated a growing collection of
paintings, books, architectural drawings and fragments, later to
form the collection which you can now see at Sir John Soane's
Museum at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields.
In 1810 Sir John sold the house and it
passed through a succession of owners until 1843 when it became
home to the daughters of Britain's only assassinated Prime
Minister, Spencer Perceval. In 1901, the building was sold to
Ealing District Council and extended to become Ealing's Public
Library. An art gallery extension was built in 1939. Since 1985,
when the library moved, the interiors have been undergoing
Now, it has been confirmed that the
Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is providing £4.42m and a £275,000
development grant, while Ealing council has earmarked £4.14m in
support. The manor house will close in January next year and is due
to reopen in 2018.
A council spokesman said: "Important
areas such as the north side of the building and the west elevation
of Soane's eating rooms, which are currently hidden by
unsympathetic later additions to the building, will be revealed;
original rooms, now closed to the public and used as offices, will
be opened up and important illustrations of Soane's design genius,
notably his glasshouse, will be reinstated."
The project will also see the house
and gallery re-integrated with the adjoining Walpole Park,
originally the grounds of Soane's home, in which he used to stroll
and go fishing with his friend J.M.W. Turner.
A major project to restore the historic landscape and
build new facilities in the park is also under way.
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