This post, by guest blogger Jo Manning, originally ran in 2014. Since the newly restored Pitzhanger Manor has just been re-opened to the public, we thought you might like to follow the progress of the work from then till now.

Pitzhanger Manor, front view and gallery from Ealing High Street, today (the art gallery is off to the right side)


Proposed restoration to front and to art gallery
In the opening years of the 19th century, Sir John Soane (1769-1830) decided to build a country house for his family just outside of London proper. In 1800 he located a site in Acton, but soon abandoned it for an existing property in Ealing. His friend, mentor, and former teacher, the architect George Dance the Younger, assisted him in the demolition of part of the property and in redesigning what was the largest part of what was an existing house to Soane’s exacting taste. The collaboration produced a charming home and lovely gardens in Ealing, an area of West London now completely different from the open fields that existed when the home was completed in 1804 and this area was very much more rural and accessible only by walking, stagecoach routes and private horse-and-carriage transportation from London.
Pitzhanger Manor circa 1804
Pitzhanger Manor is just south of the busy shopping area on the Ealing High Street. The location is accessible by bus, tube, and rail.
Relatively few people will have heard of Pitzhanger (sometimes spelled Pitshanger) Manor, and fewer still would connect it with the great Georgian architect. Sir John Soane (1753-1837), is more widely known to most of us for the museum in his name in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, comprising his original family home(s) Numbers 12-13 (built in 1792), and the adjoining Number 14, also designed by Soane It was purchased  in 1996 by the British government to house more of his voluminous private art collection.
Sir John Soane by artist Sir Thomas Lawrence

 Sir John Soane could not have been more prominent in his time. He was the Architect to the Bank of England; Surveyor to the Royal Hospital at Chelsea; Grand Superintendent of Works for the Freemasons; and responsible for the interiors of Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street as well as the Law Courts at Westminster.

Soane designed a number of new buildings adjacent to Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital at Chelsea. One of them, the Infirmary, was destroyed in WWII; the Stables (which are private but can be seen from Royal Hospital Road) is also his work and has been called “the most quintessentially Soanic” of all Soane’s exteriors; he also designed the Secretary’s Office of the Royal Hospital complex, which now houses the Museum (open to the public).

Sir John Soane’s Museum at Lincoln’s Inn Fields

Soane’s residence in Lincoln’s Inn Fields was more than a private home; it was built to hold much of his art collection, which included architectural drawings, paintings, sculpture, architectural models, and his many and diverse artifacts (including the sarcophagus of Pharoah Seti I, excavated in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings in 1817; the British Library passed on buying it, so Soane bought it!)

As the architect for the Bank of England and its offices, an undertaking that occupied him for at least 45 years, of particular note was the Bank Stock Office, considered, in 1793, to be “daringly unconventional.”  He also designed the Dulwich Picture Gallery, recently described by The Sunday Telegraph as “the most beautiful art gallery in the world”.  It was the first public picture gallery in England and is said to have influenced a number of galleries that came after. It is often remarked that the museum’s collection stands a far distant second to the magnificent design of the gallery itself.

The Dulwich Picture Gallery
  St John’s Church, Bethnal Green; St Mary Abbots Church, Kensington; St Nicholas’ Church, Chiswick; Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone; and St Peter’s Church, Walworth, are all fine examples of his church design. Of them all, the latter, St Peter’s, is the best preserved. The fine interior of the church, however, can be viewed only by attending church services; grounds are open during daylight hours.


Soane Family Tomb
Soane also designed his own tomb.  Ostensibly designed for his wife, who passed away in 1815, he shares her eternal rest along with their son John. It is in the churchyard of Old Saint Pancras Gardens, Pancras Road, Somers Town (not to be confused with Saint Pancras New Church, in nearby Euston, designed by the Inwood brothers).  Trivia check #1: Old Saint Pancras is the church where my biographical subject, Grace Dalrymple Elliott, was married.  Trivia check #2: The tomb is one of only two Grade I listed tombs in London (Karl Marx’s is the other one), and many think it inspired Giles Gilbert Scott’s red telephone box of the 1920s.
There are three tombstones: one for Soane’s wife, another for Soane, and the last for his son John (seen above), who predeceased him at the age of 37
Proposed view from the inner park to the rear of the manor house, showing new landscaping  and the glass conservatory.
View of the new fish pond, looking out of the rear windows of the house
Following the completion of the manor house, Sir John Soane was only to use it as a weekend retreat and a place of entertainment/dinner parties until he sold it only five years later in 1810.  Five years…such a short time for such an outpouring of energy and talent in the design of this building.

In 1843 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 a public library; in 1985 it was converted into a museum.

Proposed view of Belvedere in the new plan
Julian Harrap rendering of Pitzhanger Manor

In April 2012, Pitzhanger Manor was awarded a first-round development grant of £275,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Ealing Council agreed to allow the Pitzhanger Manor Trust (PMT)- a registered charity- to take over management and operation of the house and gallery.  Furthermore, £425,000 was been awarded from several charitable trusts and foundations which  fund heritage and arts projects, which are subject to the success of the second round bid from HLF. At the time, the Chair of PMT, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, said: “We are looking forward to the time when we take responsibility for Pitzhanger Manor Gallery, the new café and community facilities, all within the wonderfully restored Walpole Park.  I have no doubt that once completed it will be the jewel in the crown of the queen of the suburbs.”

Here are photos of the gorgeous interiors –

Above, one of the four caryatids atop the columns of the east front of Pitzhanger Manor. Made of  Coade stone, they are thought to be modeled on the caryatids that enclose the sanctuary of Pandrosus in Athens.


In early May 2014, my husband and I went to an exhibit at the Pitzhanger Art Gallery. The speaker was an expert on Le Corbusier and his massive photographs of Corbu’s work adorned the walls of the gallery space. It was an excellent, well-publicized exhibit that drew many participants.  The renovated house and grounds of Pitzhanger Manor will bring in many more tourists and visitors, who will, finally, honor the great architect and designer Sir John Soane in the way he should be honored. It will also be a tremendous resource for young people studying the arts. What a coup for Ealing! Bravo to the Ealing Council and the people of Ealing for their successful efforts in bringing this about.

Pitzhanger Manor re-opened on March 16, 2019 and you can visit their website here to learn more about the restoration work and for  information on planning your visit.




  1. Interesting post, amusing quote from the child! I hadn't realised the interior was restored, and will go and visit it on my next outing around London! It would have been nice to see the pictures a little larger to examine the detail, I suspect that in years to come, the conservatory will be removed and replaced by something more elegant. It is so easy to put a box on a building and assume it will somehow disappear.

  2. Thank you, Jenny Woolf! That's my 8-year-old granddaughter Lily who made the diorama for a school project. This spot is a lovely place, indeed, and I am so pleased it is getting more attention and will bring more visitors to Ealing, Queen of the Suburbs 🙂

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