Sandycombe Lodge – JWM Turner

Guided tour of Sandycombe Lodge, J.M.W. Turner’s home, followed by an optional pub lunch, and an afternoon visit to Orleans House Gallery.

On Wednesday 3 October from 11.30am, in Twickenham

From the announcement in the Summer Newsletter:

Sandycombe Lodge was built on a large plot of land in -then- rural Twickenham in 1812 designed by Turner himself, who trained as an architectural draughtsman before becoming a renowned landscape painter, influenced by his friend the architect Sir John Sloane. Turner was always fascinated by the relationship between architecture and landscape, the built and the natural. A year ago, the restoration of Sandycombe Lodge was completed and is now considered a hidden gem.

After our tour, we will amble nearby to a pub lunch at the Crown, with recently refurbished Georgian and Victorian buildings and a firm neighbourhood favourite.

We will then have a brief stroll towards the Thames to take in the beautiful Orleans House and learn a bit of its history as a Palladian Villa built in 1710 for the politician James Johnston. Other residents included George Pitt MP, Naval Officer George Pocock, Louis Philippe (from 1815-1817, before he became king of France in 1830), and Louis’ son Henri, Duc d’Aumale. The Orleans House Gallery is now attached to the Octogon Room, the beautiful room for entertaining which remains from the original Orleans House, and we are free to explore the two exhibits which will be taking place at that time.


From the report in the Winter Newsletter:

Sandycombe Lodge and Orleans House

Report by Ann McMellan on the guided tour on Wednesday 3 October

Were J. M. W. Turner still with us he would have been pleased – though not surprised – that his Fighting Temeraire had been voted the U.K.’s favourite painting and is to feature on the new £20 note to be issued in 2020. These significant testaments to his talent might suggest that Turner’s Twickenham house would be comparable to Horace Walpole’s “little gothic castle” at Strawberry Hill. In fact Sandycombe Lodge is a modest retreat which enabled Turner to sketch rural scenery, fish and entertain male friends for Meetings of the Pic-Nic-Academical Club. After living briefly in Isleworth and Hammersmith, Turner bought land in the cultural vicinity of three individuals whom he revered, Joshua Reynolds and the poets James Thomson and Alexander Pope, and with the intention of designing his own home.

Before gaining admission to the Royal Academy Schools in 1789, Turner had trained as a draughtsman in several architects’ offices but the site he chose was not suitable for a grand design. From the garden at Sandycombe Lodge, members of ANS gazed uphill at the house which is perched on a narrow ledge. Returned to the artist’s design, the building is a central two-storey block with single storey wings and a basement. Though W. Havell’s 1814 drawing appears to depict plastered white walls, thorough examination for the restoration of the lodge revealed the original basic brickwork with a band of triglyphs.

Following the garden path round towards the road, ANS members were led via a small vestibule into a cross-corridor with a series of narrow roll-mounded arches. It may be that this elegant feature was inspired by 13, Lincoln’s Inn Fields – the home of Turner’s old friend, Sir John Soane. Above the basement kitchen is a small dining-room and on the other side of the central drawing-room is the second wing room where Turner probably kept his books. Ascending the elegant staircase, lit by the original laylight, led members to one large bedroom and a smaller one for his father, ‘Old William’.

After an excellent lunch at the historic Crown Inn, ANS members walked on to the splendid Octagonal banqueting room attached to Orleans House Gallery. Commissioned by James Johnston, James Gibbs built the Octagon Room (1716 – 1720) to impress Queen Caroline, the wife of George ll, when she dined there on 13 August 1729. Though J.M.W. Turner missed out on the chicken with peaches which Queen Caroline enjoyed, he did meet the Duc d’Orleans, later Louis Philippe, King of the French, both in Twickenham and later in Picardy when Louis Philippe summoned him to Treport and Eu where the king had a vast chateau. ANS members viewed the Richmond Borough Art Collection, an exhibition of curiosities including Sir Richard Burton’s ‘human bone’ necklace and toured the Stables Courtyard.

Both Sandycombe Lodge and Orleans House Gallery left ANS members grateful, respectively, to Professor Harold and Ann Livermore and Mrs Nellie Ionides for donating these buildings to the public.


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