Updated: Oct 23, 2019
Everyone loves a winner and, at the Historic Houses Foundation, we are always proud when one of the projects we have funded goes on to win an award. I’ve just been a guest at the presentation of the 2019 Georgian Group Awards and was pleased to see Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing singled out for recognition.
The restoration project at Pitzhanger Manor has taken over eight years. The Historic Houses Foundation were involved at the start, funding a small part of this ambitious restoration project. It’s a good example of how we can often act as an enabler to help secure the conservation of other, larger, funds.
In this case, funds were forthcoming from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Arts Council and from Ealing Borough Council. What the project has achieved is not just the revival of a building of singular architectural importance but also, as a country house in an urban setting, an inspiring resource for local people. In populous West London, the building and Sir John Soane’s distinctive style will now be exposed to a large number of people who will come to love its elegance and beauty and who will be able to form their own personal memories and develop their own style in Soane’s sophisticated spaces.
Pitshanger was Sir John Soane’s country house. After a rocky start his career was secured by a lucrative contract for the Bank of England and by 1800 he was established and able to buy a small country house on the Western fringes of London near enough to his base in Lincoln’s Inn Fields to walk from one to another – it’s an energetic nine miles.
Always a classicist - Pitshanger Manor draws on the architectural influences absorbed by Soane on his Grand Tour in the late 1770s but expressed with a new confidence that allowed him to line the entrance front with giant caryatids recreated in Coade stone but drawn directly from the Acropolis. The restoration is thorough and academic, researching paint styles and decorative schemes from Soane’s design and demolishing alterations that post-dated the original building.
This purity of approach is not for everyone but has brought plaudits not just from the Georgian Group but also from the Royal Institution of British Architects -Pitshanger Manor won both national and regional awards in May.
At the Historic Houses Foundation, we are invariably involved at the beginning of a project when the challenges often seem insurmountable. When a project we have helped to fund receives national recognition we feel proud to have been just a small part in that success.