Background to the Project
In 1800 John Soane designed Pitzhanger Manor, in then rural Ealing, as his dream country retreat. An invigorating walk from his city home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, it became a place to relax and entertain friends and clients, including painter JMW Turner and King Louis Philippe of France. By 1800 Soane had achieved fame and fortune, largely thanks to his position as Architect and Surveyor to the Bank of England, and he wanted a country estate to reflect his standing in society, but also to showcase to his clients his skills as an architect. Soane enjoyed designing Pitzhanger around his growing collection of art and antiquities, including Hogarth’s series A Rake’s Progress, which was purchased specifically for Pitzhanger. But first and foremost Pitzhanger was to be a place of entertainment: Soane called the surrounding 28 acres of parkland (still there today as Walpole Park ) his ‘pleasure grounds’, and the design of the mock Roman ruins on the estate was intended for the amusement of guests.
Aims of the Renewal Project
Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust is committed to conserving, repairing and enhancing Pitzhanger and its contemporary Gallery as a major cultural landmark in West London, creating a destination for art, education and architecture where generations to come will be inspired by Soane’s creativity and architectural genius.
Over the last two centuries, since Soane sold Pitzhanger, its various owners have made some significant alterations and additions to the house. But though often concealed and overpainted, the key elements of Soane’s design and decoration remain remarkably intact. The building project will peel back the layers and later extensions to reveal Pitzhanger as it was in Soane’s time, to conserve his work and to reinstate some of the Manor’s key features destroyed over the years.
In parallel, the Trust is developing a vibrant programme of exhibitions, events, education and outreach to engage the widest possible audience of visitors from across London, internationally and beyond: from Soane experts to newcomers. The education programme will take inspiration from Soane’s Manor, his gardens and the programme of contemporary exhibitions, to stimulate participants of all ages and from all walks of life, with a particular focus on those with special needs.
The Capital cost of this project is £12 million: nearly £11 million has been raised to date. However a further £1 million remains to be raised to complete the project.
Progress to date
Soane was a master of light, and great progress has been made on recreating two magnificent glass structures at Pitzhanger: the spectacular conservatory looking westwards over Soane’s parkland (now Walpole Park), and the defining roof light that dominates every view of the Manor. Soane’s original conservatory was demolished in 1901, but has now been rebuilt on its original stone and slate terrace: a remarkable piece of design and complex joinery. It incorporates Soane’s repeated motif of delicate diamonds of yellow and blue stained glass –a feature also incorporated in the roof light – which cast stunning shadows in the winter light. Upon investigation of the attic’s roof joists, Pitzhanger’s design team were surprised to discover quite how big Soane’s roof light had been. Lit from within, it will act as a stunning beacon, drawing attention to Pitzhanger from the far end of the Park.
Meticulous work on recreating Soane’s intricate decorative paint schemes is revitalising the interiors at Pitzhanger. The dramatic marbling in the entrance hall, which was overpainted in Victorian times, is slowly coming back to life with work from paint specialists Hare & Humphries, and the Upper Drawing Room has been transformed by the restoration of the ceiling decoration.
As a wonderful flourish, the four Coade stone urns have been replaced on the corners of the parapet, returning Pitzhanger to the silhouette Soane intended.
“The Gallery was originally designed in the 1930s as Ealing’s lending library, on the site of Soane’s kitchen block. The art deco roof lights, a homage to Soane, have now been restored and again flood the Gallery with natural light
– demonstrating what a fabulous space this will be for exhibitions.The equipment required to control environmental conditions is being installed so that we will be able to display important, fragile and light-sensitive loans. Work is well progressed in recreating Soane’s elegant colonnade that connects the Gallery to the Manor and will provide the flat access that will make the Manor accessible to all our visitors. The Curatorial Team are finalising details for an exciting programme of contemporary art exhibitions to celebrate the re-opening of the Gallery.
Meanwhile Pitzhanger’s education and outreach team continue to design and trial a full programme of events to engage a diverse audience. We have been collaborating with local school Springhallow Primary to develop specialist provision for children with autism, and are currently working with architects Hawkins\Brown to test workshops to enthuse local school children in architecture and design. Pitzhanger Manor now features on the OCR history syllabus at GCSE: an excellent foundation from which to engage with local schools when Pitzhanger reopens.
We are delighted to have raised well over 90% of our fundraising target to complete this exciting project, leaving just over £1million to raise. This is a significant challenge and we continue to approach Trusts, corporate sponsors and individual donors. The Public Campaign will allow supporters to have their gifts acknowledged through the naming of tangible elements in the building and includes the Sponsor a Pane of Glass Appeal.
If you would like to find out more about the project or discuss supporting Pitzhanger please contact: Rachel Page, Head of Development, Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org