Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, the Grade-I listed country home of visionary British architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837), will re-open to the public on 16 March 2019 following a threeyear, £12-million conservation and restoration project. The Regency Manor, built between 1800 and 1804 in then-rural Ealing, will be returned to Soane’s original design – it is a rare and spectacular example of a building designed, built and lived in by Soane himself. The adjoining Gallery built in the 1930s, will also be upgraded and will stage three major exhibitions a year, featuring the work of contemporary artists, architects and designers, shining a new light on Soane’s legacy.
The initiative to revitalise Pitzhanger was conceived by Ealing Council. Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust was established in 2012 to work alongside the Council on the restoration project and to undertake the management and operation of Pitzhanger when it opens to the public.
This remarkable restoration project, led by architects Jestico + Whiles with the support of heritage experts Julian Harrap Architects, has removed later architectural additions and extensions to reveal, for the first time in over 150 years, a restored Pitzhanger faithful to Soane’s vision. Soane’s building has been conserved and key structural and decorative elements of his design have been reinstated. The project has also reunited this unique building with its former parkland, the recently renovated Walpole Park. On reopening in March 2019, every part of the Manor will be open to the public for the first time in its history, with the addition of Soane’s Kitchen, a contemporary café-restaurant, built within Soane’s walled kitchen garden.
Anish Kapoor will launch Pitzhanger Gallery’s exhibitions programme. The exhibition will feature a series of sculptures that invite dialogue between the work, the architecture and the viewer. Kapoor’s use of material and form will echo Soane’s complex use of mirrors and light to multiply and dissolve space. One of the most influential sculptors of his generation, Kapoor’s invention of sculptural language has constantly challenged the way we view the world.
Clare Gough, Director of Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust said: “We are delighted to reveal for the first time in over 150 years Pitzhanger as designed by Soane, bringing this building back to life to engage and inspire visitors. Anish Kapoor’s exhibition will enable the public to look at Soane and his influence in a new light. We look forward to establishing Pitzhanger as an inspiring destination for heritage, culture and art.”
Sir John Soane, still widely influential on architects and designers today, is celebrated for his idiosyncratic take on the Neoclassical style and his mastery of natural light. Pitzhanger Manor was purchased by Soane in 1800, he demolished most of the existing building and redesigned it to become his dream country estate where he could experiment with new design ideas and showcase his skills as an architect. With its stripped classical detail, canopy domed ceilings, radical decorative paint schemes and inventive use of space and light, Pitzhanger features many architectural elements that Soane adapted for his later buildings including Dulwich Picture Gallery and his city home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
The conservation and restoration project has reinstated important structural elements of Soane’s design, such as the conservatory demolished in 1901 and the dramatic central roof light which returns Pitzhanger to the silhouette Soane intended. The recreation of a colonnade connecting the Gallery and Manor provides full accessibility for all visitors. Soane’s original intricate paint schemes, which were overpainted in the 1830s, have also been meticulously recreated throughout the Manor following detailed historic paint analysis by interior decoration specialists Hare & Humphreys. The dramatic marbling in the entrance hall and the hand-painted Chinese wallpaper in the Upper Drawing Room have revitalised Pitzhanger’s interiors.
Soane was also an enthusiastic collector and educator. He designed Pitzhanger around his eclectic and growing collection of art and antiquities which served to inspire his students and guests. Once open to the public, Pitzhanger will uphold Soane’s commitment to inspiring and educating future generations through the arts. Alongside the temporary exhibitions, Pitzhanger will offer an extensive programme of events, learning and outreach designed to engage the widest possible audience and nurture an understanding of the relevance of Soane’s work today.
As well as a showcase of architectural design, Soane intended Pitzhanger to be a place for entertainment, where he could invite clients and influential friends to dinners and large garden parties or even to fish in the lake. A new café-restaurant; Soane’s Kitchen, has been designed by Jestico + Whiles in the walled garden and will continue this tradition of entertainment and hospitality, making use of herbs and vegetables grown in the kitchen garden.
The reopening of Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery has been supported by Ealing Council, the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, and generous donations from many other Trusts, Foundations, corporate partners and individuals. The Trust is now embarking on the final stages of the fundraising campaign to secure £500,000 to cover the remaining building works and ongoing maintenance costs.
Councillor Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council said: “The reopening of Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery is key to Ealing Council’s extensive long-term regeneration and development plans for the borough. We are proud to have initiated and supported this transformational project, which is at the heart of plans to build on Ealing’s fantastic cultural heritage and ensure the borough is a great destination for tourists and visitors from near and far.”
Artdaily.org, 15.12.2018: “Anish Kapoor to launch reopening of Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery”.