Turner’s home-made house opens

The house J M W Turner built as a country home at Twickenham has opened to the public after a £2.4m rescue operation.

Sandycombe Lodge beside the Thames was designed by the painter, with advice from his friend John Soane, as a tranquil refuge for his father and where he could enjoy nature. It was built in about 1813.

The house had been in private ownership and was derelict when the Turner’s House Trust, formed by local volunteers, took it over. It was placed on Historic England’s Buildings At Risk Register in 2013 and listed Grade II*, but has now been restored by the in a year-long conservation programme, which revealed secrets about the house that have been respected, in a programme made possible initially by the support Turner scholars and of the Pilgrim Trust, and later by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Later additions and alterations removed and the original external brick fabric revealed, to reflect Turner’s original intentions, drawing on the evidence of his own later sketches and a William Havell drawing of about 1814.

“As our ‘creative demolition’ work progressed we revealed clear evidence of the earlier form of the building” said Gary Butler of Butler Hegarty Architects. “Scars in the brickwork illustrated the location and pitch of lower roofs. The first real surprise occurred once we took down the ceiling of the rooms in the raised wings, revealing the original flank walls of the main block of the house, which had remained hidden for almost 200 years. In addition the uncovered brickwork was consistently multi-coloured, with a predominant deep plum-coloured brick, more typical of late 18thcentury brickwork and similar to bricks used by Turner’s friend Sir John Soane for numerous projects and the courtyard of his own house.” 


 Picture credit Anne Purkiss ©Turner’s House Trust Collection

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