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Pitzhanger Manor (east face)
|Location||Mattock Lane, Ealing, London, W5 5EQ, United Kingdom|
|Architect||Sir John Soane|
|Public transit access||Ealing Broadway; South Ealing|
Pitzhanger Manor is the former country home of British neo-classical architect, Sir John Soane, based in Ealing, West London. Built between 1800 and 1804, the Regency Manor is a rare and spectacular example of a building designed, built and lived in by Sir John Soane himself. Soane intended it as a domestic space to entertain guests in, as well as a family home for a dynasty of architects, starting with his sons.
Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery was established as a heritage attraction in 1987, later showing contemporary art exhibitions from 1996. In 2015, the Pitzhanger closed for a major conservation project to restore the Grade I listed building to Soane’s original designs, and upgrade the contemporary Gallery. The three-year project was led by Ealing Concil, in collaboration with Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust and with the aid of the National Lottery Heritage Fund. On the 16th March 2019 Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery re-opened, revealing Soane’s original design visible for the first time in over 175 years.
- 1 History
- 2 Architecture
- 3 Management
- 4 Film and television location
- 5 Visit
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
A large house has stood on the site at least since the late seventeenth century, at which time the smaller Pitzhanger Manor (variously spelled) stood a mile or so to its north.
Between 1664 and 1674 a Richard Slaney paid Hearth Tax on a building on the site of the present-day Pitzhanger Manor for 16 hearths. This provides a rough indication of the considerable size of the property.
In 1711, the occupants John and Mary Wilmer gave away their eldest daughter Grizell to be married to Johnathan Gurnell. He went on to make his fortune, first as a merchant and later as a co-founder of the city bank Gurnell, Hoare, and Harman. It was through this marriage that the house then passed to his only surviving son Thomas Gurnell, who bought Pits Hanger Manor Farm (sometimes spelt Pitts Hanger on old maps) in 1765. With the plainer 'manor house' of Pits Hanger (Farm) Manor standing near the centre of the modern Meadvale Road in the present suburb of Pitshanger (often referred to locally as Pitshanger Village), his grander existing house, a mile to the south in Ealing, became known as Pitshanger Place.
In 1768 George Dance was commissioned to build an extension, on which a young John Soane had one of his first architectural apprenticeships.
Upon the death of Thomas Gurnell, his son Johnathan II inherited the house. On his death in 1791, ownership passed to his young daughter (but was held in trust). The house was let out until 1799 when the trustees decided to sell it.
Sir John Soane (1800 - 1810)
By the 1790s, John Soane had a successful architectural practice in London, holding the post of architect to the Bank of England. In 1794 Soane, his wife Eliza and their two young sons moved into 12 Lincoln's Inn Fields (now part of the Sir John Soane's Museum) in central London, which doubled as an architecture office for him and his staff.
In early 1800 Soane decided to acquire a family country home to the west of London. Though he initially planned to have the house purpose built, he saw potential in Pitzhanger, one of the sites he had worked on during his bricklayer apprenticeship.On 21 July 1800 he visited Pitzhanger, which he had heard was available, and offered the trustees £4,500 for the whole estate of 28 acres (110,000 m2); it was accepted on 1 August.
Soane worked vigorously on the designs of the new house, and over a hundred drawings for it are held by Soane's Museum. He planned for the demolition of the older part of the house and many of the outbuildings; however, he retained the two-storey south wing designed by George Dance, in part because of admiration of their intricate interiors and in part in respect for Dance, his first employer. Demolition began in 1800, keeping its original position in Walpole Park. Most of Soane's radical rebuilding was complete by late 1803.
Completed in 1804, the central section of the house uses many typical Soane features: curved ceilings, inset mirrors, false doors, and wooden panelling. Soane continued the building to the east with a servants' wing and romantic ruins. The buildings in this eastern part of the site were demolished in or around 1901. The building is reminiscent to his home at Lincoln's Inn Fields. Much of Soane's collection of paintings and classical antiquities residing at Soane's museum was originally housed in Pitzhanger Manor.
Soane sold the house in 1810 and it then passed through several hands until in 1843 it became home to the daughters of Spencer Perceval. He referred to it as Pitzhanger Manor-house. Since Soane's time, the house has been referred to variously as The Manor, or Pitshanger Manor, but has now formally reverted to the name given to it by Soane, spelt with a Z. (Pitshanger Village and Lane remain spelt with an S.)
Ealing District Council (1900 - 1985)
In 1900 the house was acquired by Ealing Urban District Council in the year before it became a Municipal Borough for a total of £40,000 pounds, a quarter of which came from the Middlesex County Council. Its new function was to serve as a Free Public Library. However, work on converting the building did not start until after the death of its last resident, Frederika Perceval, in May 1901. A key element of the restoration work was to build a ground-floor extension with a pitched slate roof, on the west of the 'Eating Room'. However, this magnificent room was all that remained of George Dance's original design. The Council had its chief surveyor Charles Jones design the extension next to the existing Breakfast Room. As Dance designed the Eating Room windows with a tall aspect, topped by semi-circular bonded gauge brick arches, the glazing and frames were removed to open them up. This provided three large arched pedestrian openings into the newly created extension. To avoid a clash of architectural styles, Jones specified that the new extension be an almost mirror image of its neighbour, which was clearly visible through the connecting arches. With its high ceilings and matching plaster moulding and colour scheme, this helped create the illusion of one elegant and spacious reading area.
Finally, as access from this part of the building to the main library stock and issuing area required going up and down several steps along the passageway – which winds northward through the house, a new entrance was built out on the east-side of the breakfast room with 'Reading Room' emblazoned across its Portland stone lintel.
On the north side of the house: Jones had the servants' quarters demolished and removed some ornamental faux Roman ruins. The building to house the new lending library was constructed on the space so cleared. To complement the rest of the house it had the same arched windows. The lintel of the Portland stone surround of the portico was inscribed 'Lending Library'. It was opened to the public in April 1902.
In 1938–40 the lending library block was replaced by a new, slightly larger building.
The Library moved out in 1984 and in 1985 the restoration work began. Analysis of the structure and paint layers were used to recreate an authentic period look to the build.
Museum and Gallery (1987 - today)
The partially restored house opened to the public once again in January 1987 as the London Borough of Ealing's main museum. In 1996 it began showing exhibitions of contemporary art, in the 1939 extension to the House and within the House itself. It later became known as PM Gallery & House. From the mid-2000s a comprehensive education programme underpinned the exhibitions and served the widest possible range of audiences, from Ealing and further afield. The venue also became a popular setting for weddings and events. Planning began for the major restoration project in 2008. Pitzhanger was closed for a major conservation project in March 2015 and reopened to the public in March 2019.
One of the four Coade stone caryatids atop the columns of the east front, after those that enclose the sanctuary of Pandrosus, Athens.
Ealing War Memorial (1919)
After the Armistice that marked the end of the First World War, it was decided that a memorial for the men of Ealing who had been killed in the war should be built. After much discussion, a location outside Pitzhanger Manor was finally chosen as the site. The memorial was to be in the form of a gateway with two walls, and on each of the walls would be engraved the names of the dead. There would also be a tree-lined avenue from the road leading to the memorial. The memorial's sculptor was Leonard Shuffrey, a local architect. The pedestals came from Elm Grove, the former country residence of Spencer Perceval. On the gate is the following inscription:
|“||In proud and grateful memory of the men of this borough who laid down their lives in the Great War 1914–1918.||”|
Restoration (2012 - 2019)
A major Ealing Council project has restored and developed Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery. In April 2012, Pitzhanger Manor was awarded a first-round development grant of £275,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and was working with the Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund on plans to restore the house. The project aimed to "restore Soane’s architectural vision, reveal Pitzhanger Manor’s rich history, make the building more accessible and upgrade the gallery as well as improve visitor facilities to create a world-class heritage and arts attraction".
A round-two bid of £4.42 million was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2014 to carry out the restorations and a bid for just under £500,000 for works to the gallery was secured from Arts Council England.
The plans included demolishing the 1901 Eating Room extension designed by Charles Jones, and rebuilding Soane's rear single-storey conservatory, which was demolished by 1910. Because the Eating Room then used the space used for wedding ceremonies, and the demolition of the early 20th century extension will make it unfit for this purpose, the plans propose to build a café and venue on the east side of the walled garden, thus reducing the size of the garden by approximately 25%; the walled garden itself was being restored as part of the restoration of Walpole Park.
The plans for the restoration of the house caused some controversy, not least about the monetary contribution from Ealing Council, part of which is Section 106 money from the nearby Dickens Yard development.
The conservation and restoration project was led by architects Jestico + Whiles with the support of heritage experts Julian Harrap Architects. They were supported by a large team of specialist contractors, led by Quinn London Ltd. Craftspeople from across the UK lent their skills to reinstating Soane’s intricate and idiosyncratic designs, from stone carving to Chinese wallpaper, landscaping to glass. They also helped design Soane's Kitchen, the sites' café. On March 16th 2019, Pitzhanger re-opened for the first time after completing the three-year restoration project, making Soane’s original design once again visible for the first time in over 175 years. Alongside the extensive conservation, there is a new giftshop, an improved exhibition space, and new interpretation within the house.
Having been under ownership of Ealing Council since their 20th century acquisition, Pitzhanger Manor has naturally been under their management since their opening as a historic site in 1987, as well as its Gallery space's opening in 1996.
Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust
An independent charity has been established called Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust, formed in 2012 by Ealing Council to oversee the restoration project. Chaired by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the trustees raised funds for Pitzhanger's restoration. After its re-opening on 16 March 2019 the Trust took on the running of the site as a public visitor attraction.
Film and television location
Due to Pitzhanger's authentic period look it has been registered as a film location and as such is available for hire. It is also next to Ealing Studios. It has featured in:
- The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) with Judi Dench, Rupert Everett and Colin Firth. The restored George Dance wing (Breakfast Room) and its Victorian extension was used.
- The Biographer (First Biography Films, 2000). Pitzhanger Manor used to double as Kensington Palace. Pitshanger Gallery doubled as The Tate in this 1990s period drama about biographer Andrew Moreton (played by Paul McGann).
- Kavanagh QC (Carlton TV, 1998). Pitzhanger Gallery doubled as a Crown Court, effectively a full set build apart from the ceiling light.
- Doctor Who: More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS (BBC, Sunday 7 November 1993). Sarah Jane Smith (played by Elisabeth Sladen) and her daughter Sadie are pursued by a Sontaran, played by Stephen Mansfield. This short shot was for a one-off anniversary program, made in the style of a documentary.
Ealing Broadway is the nearest National Rail and London Underground station to Pitzhanger Manor and Galley, being an 8-minute walk from the site. It is connected by the District and Central line, and 9-minute journey from Paddington station.
There are several London buses which stop within a short walk to Pitzhanger: 65, 207, 427, 607, E1, E11, 112, E2, E7, E8, E9, E10, 483, 226, 297.
In particular, the 65 from Ealing Broadway Station to Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre provides a 2-minute walk to Pitzhanger. Likewise, the E2, E7 and E8 from Ealing Broadway Station to Ealing Town Hall all offer a 5-minute walk.
Neighbouring historic houses or sites
- South-West: Boston Manor House, 2.3 miles (6 min driving time)
- South-East: Chiswick House, 4.2 miles (10 min driving time)
- South: Syon House, 2.8 miles (8 min driving time)
- At his death Johnathan Gurnell made a number of charitable bequests in the area: for general purposes, to provide coal for the poor, and to provide for the education of bright but disadvantaged young people from the district. Today these bequests are administered by The Ealing and Brentford Consolidated Charity Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 11 May 2007).
- Ealing and Brentford: Other Estates: A History of the County of Middlesex Volume 7 Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden (1982), pp. 128–31, accessed 11 May 2007
- Ealing and Brentford: Manors: A History of the County of Middlesex Volume 7: Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden (1982), pp. 123–28, accessed 11 May 2007; Emmeline Leary Pitshanger Manor, An Introduction, p.20.
- Over a hundred designs: Leary, Pitshanger Manor, p.22.
- This price included the estate (now Walpole park), an area of some thirty-plus acres purchased from Sir Spencer Walpole (1830–1907), grandson of Spencer Perceval.
- Peter Hounsell, Ealing and Hanwell Past (London: Historical Publications, 1991; ISBN 0-948667-13-3), p.98.
- "Ealing War Memorial". Ealing Borough Council. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- "Restoration Project". Ealing Council. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
- "Pitzhanger Manor consultation document". Ealing Council. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
- "Walpole Park Restoration Plans". Ealing Council. Archived from the original on 20 March 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
- "Get your hands dirty in Walpole Park". Ealing Council. 4 January 2012. Archived from the original on 20 March 2014.
- Dunton, Jim. "Work starts on £5.2m Walpole Park project". Ealing London Magazine. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
- Leach, Eric (2 October 2011). "Gold Plating the Grass in Walpole Park – Councillor Taylor Style". Retrieved 20 March 2014.
- "Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery – Projects – Jestico + Whiles". www.jesticowhiles.com. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
- "Pitzhanger » History". Retrieved 14 January 2020.
- West London Film Office Archived 12 August 2004 at the Wayback Machine
- Baker, T F T, and C R Elrington (editors); Diane K Bolton, Patricia E C Croot, M A Hicks. A History of the County of Middlesex Volume 7, Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden, 1982. Victoria County History. British History Online. University of London & History of Parliament Trust. (The volume completes the coverage of outer Middlesex with the five outer parishes of the Kensington division of Ossulstone hundred.) Accessed 2007-05-12
- Ewing, Heather. "Pitzhanger Manor." Pp. 142–49. In Margaret Richardson and MaryAnne Stevens, eds., John Soane, Architect: Master of Space and Light. London: Royal Academy, 1999. ISBN 0-900946-80-6 (paper); ISBN 0-300-08195-2 (hard). Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1999.
- Hounsell, Peter. Ealing and Hanwell Past. London: Historical Publications, 1991. ISBN 0-948667-13-3. Pp. 24, 26, 98, 99.
- Leary, Emmeline. Pitshanger Manor: An Introduction. New ed. [Ealing, London]: Ealing Community Services, . ISBN 0-86192-090-2. The booklet now (early 2008) sold in the Manor as a guide and souvenir. Although the publication is not dated, the short introduction is dated January 1990 and is clearly written for publication.
- Neaves, Cyrill. A History of Greater Ealing. N.p. (UK): S. R. Publishers, 1971. ISBN 0-85409-679-5. Pp. 65, 76.
- Scala Arts Heritage Publishers. "Pitzhanger Manor: John Soane's Country Home." London: Scala Editions, 2019. ISBN 9781785512032 (paper).
- Cruickshank, Dan. "Soane and the meaning of colour." Architectural Review, January 1989. (The newly restored Pitzhanger Manor-House is commented upon at length)
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