This restored Regency villa was
designed by Sir John Soane, an English architect best remembered
as the architect of the Bank of England. The charming
building was to become Soane's own country residence.
The architect bought Pitzhanger
Manor from Thomas Gurnell, a City merchant, in 1800.
Soane then demolished the original house to create a Regency
villa, retaining a wing constructed by Gurnell in 1768, to
the designs of George Dance the younger, with whom Soane worked
before make his own name.
Soane sold the property in 1810,
and for most of the 19th century Pitzhanger Manor was the
home of the five daughters of Spencer Perceval, the Tory Prime
Minister assassinated in 1812. During this period a
wing was added to the right of Soane's building.
In 1901 the local authority purchased
Pitzhanger Manor and converted the house into a library and
extended it.After 1985 the Borough of Ealing restored the
property and transformed it into a museum.
The house consists of a main
block, two storeys high, with the Dance wing to the left and
the 19th century wing to the right. The facade is embellished
with arched windows. Soane created intimate domestic
interiors, decorated in neo-classical style, with echoes of
the architect's town house in Lincoln's Inn Fields.
The narrow Entrance Hall is tunnel-vaulted
and to the right is the darkly painted Breakfast Room, which
has a shallow dome. The Library is decorated with mirrors
and has a shallow groined vault and bookcases. The
plainer Drawing Room, has decoration in the ceiling.
Soane redecorated the Eating
Room in the Dance wing in blues and greens and was extended
by the local authority in 1901, now used for poetry readings
and concerts. The Drawing Room on the first floor is
decorated with an arabesque and fan detail on the ceiling,
whilst the Monk's Dining Room in the basement of the Soane
block once held some of the architect's collections of architectural
fragments and sculpture.
The Victorian wing of Pitzhanger
Manor now houses a small collection of Martinware. This
highly decorated pottery was very fashionable in the late-Victorian
period, being produced in Southall between 1877 - 1915.
The gardens form Walpole Park,
a peaceful haven from shopping area in nearby Ealing.
Much of the original landscaping which was carried out in
1800 by John Haverfield of Kew for Soane, has been retained.
Although the lake is now a sunken garden, the bridge constructed
by Soane can be seen and his gateway and lodge have survived.