Gallery and Manor-House history

Breakfast Room, Pitzhanger Manor © John Sturrock

PM Gallery & House has become a major cultural venue in West London.

As well as exhibiting contemporary professional artwork, it also owns the largest collection of Martinware in the country (no longer on public display).

History

In 1800, the architect John Soane purchased Pitzhanger Manor-House. At this stage in his illustrious career, as architect and surveyor to the Bank of England and with public buildings and private house to his credit, Soane intended to build his 'dream' house - his own country villa, to be used subsequently as a 'suitable' residence for his sons.

Soane demolished most of the existing manor, apart from an extension designed in 1768 by his first employer, George Dance. He then set about building his own home, which he saw as 'a sort of portrait' - an advertisement for his own idiosyncratic architectural style with its stripped classical detail, radical colour schemes and inventive use of space and light.

Following its completion in 1804, the Soanes used Pitzhanger Manor-House as a weekend retreat and a place of entertainment. It also accommodated a growing collection of paintings, books, architectural drawings and fragments, later to form the collection which you can now see at Sir John Soane's Museum at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields. For further information visit http://www.soane.org/.

In 1810 Soane sold the House. With remarkably little alteration, it passed through a succession of owners until 1843 when it became home to the daughters of Britain's only assassinated Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval. In 1901, the building was sold to Ealing District Council and extended to become Ealing's Public Library. The 1940 lending library building on the site of Soane's mock Roman ruins is now the PM Gallery. Soane's ornamental gardens and parkland, including his bridge, entrance arch and lodge, became Walpole Park, today on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Since 1985, when the library moved to the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre, the interiors of the House have been undergoing restoration to reveal their original splendour. Extensive documentation at the Soane Museum, including bills, correspondence with contractors, diaries and drawings allows us to build up an authentic picture of the House in Soane's time. In some rooms, original colour schemes have been painstakingly recreated by analysing paint samples. The same is planned in the remaining rooms which will then be furnished with items similar to those acquired by the Soanes.

Images of Pitzhanger

As part of the Sir John Soane's Museum 'Building Sites' project, supported by a grant from the Designation Development Fund (DDF), images of Pitzhanger Manor and also Soane's other London projects have been catalogued and can be viewed online within the Sir John Soane's Museum collections.

PM Gallery

Today, the whole site is being developed as a major cultural venue incorporating the historic house and PM Gallery, now the largest public art gallery space in West London exhibiting contemporary professional art. Exhibitions are often sited in both the Gallery and the Manor-House where site specific installations respond to the history and architecture of the House.