Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery History

In 1800, the architect John Soane purchased Pitzhanger Manor-House. At this stage in his illustrious career, as architect and surveyor to the Bank of England and with public buildings and private house to his credit, Soane intended to build his 'dream' house - his own country villa, to be used subsequently as a 'suitable' residence for his sons.

Soane demolished most of the existing manor, apart from an extension designed in 1768 by his first employer, George Dance that he had in fact worked on as an apprentice. He then set about building his own home, which he saw as 'a sort of portrait' - an advertisement for his own idiosyncratic architectural style with its stripped classical detail, radical colour schemes and inventive use of space and light.

Following its completion in 1804, the Soanes used Pitzhanger Manor-House 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. For further information visit http://www.soane.org/.

In 1810 Soane sold the House. With remarkably little alteration, 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. The 1940 lending library building on the site of Soane's mock Roman ruins is now the PM Gallery. Soane's ornamental gardens and parkland, including his bridge, entrance arch and lodge, became Walpole Park, today on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

The Gallery

Today, the whole site is being developed as a major cultural venue incorporating the historic house and the Gallery, now the largest public art gallery space in West London exhibiting contemporary professional art. Exhibitions are often sited in both the Gallery and the Manor-House where site specific installations respond to the history and architecture of the House.

Following a successful Heritage Lottery Fund application, the House and Gallery will close in 2015 for restoration and upgrading and will open, with a new brasserie/entertainment space in the historic Walled Garden.

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