I was invited to see the work which has been done by Jestico and Whiles – the new-build café and the conversion of the old 1930s classical library into new exhibition space – and the restoration of the original Soane central block and George Dance wing by Julian Harrap at Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing.
I hadn’t previously understood that Soane demolished an existing country house to create his new house, which is surprisingly small in scale, but based on the Arch of Constantine, while retaining the brick wing which had been added in 1768 and on which Soane had himself worked as Dance’s apprentice.
This is evident in the watercolour sketch by C.J. Richardson commissioned by Soane long after he had sold the house:-
The main house itself was, and is, quite small, not much more than a set of entertaining rooms, but it was made to seem much larger by the addition of a kitchen block flanking the carriage drive and fake Roman ruins:-
The entrance façade is appropriately Roman:-
Good Coade stone caryatids and detailing:-
Inside, the paintwork of the Vestibule, originally done by Crace, has been beautifully restored by Hare and Humphreys:-
All the furniture and Soane’s collection are missing. But enough survives to give a sense of the grandiosity of Soane’s suburban retreat:-