Walpole Park, Mattock Lane, Ealing W5
Date of construction: 1800-1804
Original architect: Sir John Soane (1753-1837)
Client: London Borough of Ealing
Sir John Soane is acknowledged internationally as one of the most significant British architects of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Given his far-reaching influence on architecture there are surprisingly, few surviving examples of his work. This makes Soane’s Pitzhanger Manor, a grade I listed historic gem situated in the 12-acre Walpole Park, all the more important.
Soane bought the house and land from George Dance the Younger (1741-1828) the original architect for the building. He then modified the property into an Italian weekend villa for his family and as a showcase for potential clients. Pitzhanger Manor was also a testbed for many of Soane’s ideas, some of which were adopted at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, now Sir John Soane’s Museum. Soane sold Pitzhanger in 1810. Unfortunately, subsequent owners have made alterations to the building, some of which have compromised the purity of its design.
Julian Harrap Architects, in collaboration with Jestico + Whiles as lead architect for Pitzhanger Manor and Walpole Park, was appointed as conservation architect for the restoration of the Manor, including the Dance wing and the new north courtyard. The works by JHA include the meticulous restoration of the Manor; demolition of the eating room extension and 19th century infill; reinstatement of the Manor’s conservatory and rooflight lantern and reinstatement of the interior tribune; the reconstruction of Soane’s enclosed north courtyard and colonnade leading from the Manor to the 1940 gallery (former lending library). The north elevation of Pitzhanger Manor will be revealed again and inappropriate changes to Soane’s designs will be reversed.
Jestico + Whiles has led the refurbishment of the gallery to provide exhibition space and central visitor facilities; and constructed a new café and events building in the walled garden. J&L Gibbons has designed new hard and soft landscaping including a café terrace and the restoration of the Regency forecourt area.
During the site-based analysis process and academic research of the building, JHA made a profound discovery. There has always been a long-held theory that Soane demolished all but Dance’s south wing. However, JHA now consider that Soane retained much of the main building, ‘dressing’ it externally and implementing a number of major alterations to the interior.
This ambitious, ten-year project, which is due to be complete by summer 2018, aims to conserve, restore and enhance Soane’s Pitzhanger Manor. Renewal of the adjacent gallery and lodge, alongside the transformation of Walpole Park, will provide an inspirational heritage attraction, community and visitor facilities within Ealing’s Cultural Quarter.