Last chance to view anything at Pitzhanger before 2018

19 December 2014

Pitzhanger Manor House & Gallery to close for major restoration

When the current exhibition at Pitzhanger Manor House & Gallery closes on 10 January, the doors to Sir John Soane’s architectural treasure in Ealing will remain closed for three years. The personal dream home created by the great British architect in the early years of the 19th-century is about to undergo a major, £10.52M renovation, funded by Ealing Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England

The one exception during the closure is a special, one-off, ‘Access All Areas’ event on Saturday 28 March 2015, when visitors will be able to tour the whole of the Manor House, cleared and emptied in readiness for the restoration work to begin. Full details of the event will be confirmed soon. 

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chair of the Pitzhanger Manor Trust, said, “Pitzhanger Manor House is an internationally significant part of London’s architectural heritage, on the verge of being restored properly for the first time. This challenging, three-year project will result in a major historical and cultural site in west London, revealing Soane’s original vision for his magnificent home and the brilliance of his designs, while also producing contemporary art exhibitions of the highest quality. While the House will be closed, Pitzhanger will be extremely busy for the next three years, not least with the campaign to raise the remaining £1M needed to complete the project. There are many ways in which individuals, trusts and businesses can become part of this auspicious project and we welcome all interest and support.” 

The final exhibition, Crossing the Field: WWI, Football & the Christmas Truce, explores an enduringly fascinating and heart-warming aspect of the First World War runs until 10 January 2015 when the gallery doors will close until 2018. 

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 1914, British and German soldiers on the Western Front exchanged food and gifts, sang songs and, most famously, played football. This almost incredible situation, in which people tasked to kill each other were able to stop fighting for a game of football, is the inspiration for the exhibition, which has been co-curated by De Queeste Art, Belgium and Pitzhanger Manor Gallery. 

Marking the centenary of the War, the exhibition features the work of nine artists of four nationalities – British, Belgian, French and German – and examines both the humanity behind the truce and the positive power of football. 

Cllr Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council, said, “The Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Project is hugely important for London, but particularly for Ealing, and a big part of the renaissance of the town itself. Since Pitzhanger Manor Gallery opened in 1996, it has produced 116 free contemporary exhibitions, covering many subjects and featuring artists of the calibre of Howard Hodgkin, Marina Abramović, MacDonald Gill, Anthony Gormley and Walker Evans. Crossing the Field is among the most significant and poignant of those shows, with a resonance that makes it a fitting exhibition with which to draw the current incarnation of the Gallery to a close.” 

The Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Project, which is being led by Ealing Council in partnership with Pitzhanger Manor Trust (formed at the end of 2012 to work with the Council to manage the project), will restore Sir John Soane’s Grade I-listed historic manor house completely, upgrade the 1939 Gallery building for major exhibitions, create a new café in the walled garden, improve visitor facilities and make the whole House fully accessible by all visitors. 

The project will reveal Soane’s original vision for his weekend home, a rare, surviving Regency villa and gardens in Ealing Town Centre. The north side of the building and the west elevation of Soane’s Eating Room will be revealed; original rooms, currently closed to the public, will be opened up; and important illustrations of Soane’s design genius, notably his glasshouse, will be reinstated. 

A design team, led by architects Jestico + Whiles and including conservation architects Julian Harrap Architects LLP and landscape architects J&L Gibbons, will transform Pitzhanger, reintegrating the House and Gallery with the adjoining Walpole Park, originally the grounds of Soane’s home, in which he used to stroll and go fishing with his friend, the artist J.M.W. Turner. 

Pitzhanger Manor House & Gallery will close at 5pm on Saturday 10 January 2015.