Turner’s house will be restored and opened to the public

 Sandycombe Lodge has been placed on the English Heritage register of endangered historic structures. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Sandycombe Lodge has been placed on the English Heritage register of endangered historic structures. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A house designed by the painter JMW Turner as a country home to share with his father will be saved from dereliction and opened permanently to the public through a £1.4m grant to be announced on Wednesday by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“We are just so excited, it is superb news – this house is a national treasure, but it is in a sad, sad state, and if we had to get through another bad winter without knowing whether we could go ahead with restoration, it would be truly worrying,” said Rosemary Vaux, of the Turner House Trust. “The months of torrential rain last winter did terrible damage, and we were really fearful of the consequences if we had another prolonged spell of such bad weather.”

The Grade II listed house, Sandycombe Lodge in Twickenham, west London, is the only known building designed by Turner. It was described by Vaux as a three-dimensional work of art. It was left by the last private owner to a trust, but its increasingly fragile condition meant that it was only open to the public one afternoon a month, and placed on the English Heritage register of endangered historic structures.

The house will close this year and reopen in 2016 with the garden and interiors restored to their appearance in Turner’s day.
The house will close this year and reopen in 2016 with the garden and interiors restored to their appearance in Turner’s day.

The grant, with extra funding being raised by the trust, means that it will close this year and reopen in 2016 for 46 weeks of the year, with later features removed and the garden and interiors restored to their appearance in Turner’s day. The house had many features including distinctive tall narrow arches inspired by his friend Sir John Soane, the architect whose own much grander country home, Pitzhanger Manor, was only a few miles away in Ealing. Turner lived in Twickenham for part of the year from 1813 until 1826, producing many dazzling paintings of nearby stretches of the Thames, with his father as housekeeper and gardener. As portrayed in Mike Leigh’s film Mr Turner, father and son were devoted, though many visitors mistook the modestly dressed little man pottering around the garden with a wheelbarrow – seen in one Turner drawing – for a groundsman. He entertained friends to lavish picnics in the garden, which had colourful flower beds, a large pond full of fish and water lilies, and a weeping willow planted from a slip he took from the garden of another local celebrity, the poet Alexander Pope.

In 1826 Turner sold the house and moved his father back to his larger town house, studio and gallery in London. Although the house passed through many hands, and the fact that he designed it was forgotten, the connection with the artist was never forgotten locally and it was cherished on his account by a succession of owners. The narrow country lane is now a suburban street, with the house hemmed in by later buildings, but it is still recognisable from 19th century engravings made in Turner’s day. The interior was barely modernised even after being a second world war factory making goggles for aviators.

Turner kept the adjoining meadow for years, finally selling it for a handsome profit in 1848 to the railway company which was driving a new line through to Windsor.

In 1947 Professor Harold Livermore bought the surviving scrap of garden and the house which was in such poor state that there was talk of demolishing it. He carried out extensive research with his wife Ann on Turner’s time in Twickenham, campaigned to prevent development which would have damaged its setting, established the trust in 2005, and bequeathed the house on his death in 2010 along with an extensive collection of books and works of art.

Blondel Cluff, chair of the London committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Interest in Turner has never been greater, as reflected in the success of the recent biographical film and the exhibition of his work at Tate Britain. The restoration of this modest, classical property introduces us to Turner, the architect, adding a whole new dimension to our understanding of this great artist. Sandycombe allows us all to literally walk inside the work of one of the world’s leading artists – a truly unique experience.”

Source: The Guardian.

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6 places that inspired J.M.W. Turner’s works

St Mawes, Cornwall
St Mawes, Cornwall

Turner visited St Mawes in the summer of 1811 on a tour of the West Country, to gather material for a collection of views of the south coast. He never returned to that part of England, but this work remains pivotal to his explorations of that part of the country.

'St Mawes in the Pilchard Season' (Tate Gallery)
‘St Mawes in the Pilchard Season’ (Tate Gallery)
Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Turner first visited the nearby cathedral city of Salisbury in 1795, and as his career developed, he returned to paint Stonehenge and the surrounding landscape. The first of his patrons in the area was the antiquarian St Richard Colt Hoare. In the late 1790s, Sir Richard commissioned him to paint a series of watercolours of Salisbury and its newly restored cathedral, planting his interest very much in the West Country.

'Stonehenge at Daybreak' from Liber Studiorum (Royal Academy of Arts)
‘Stonehenge at Daybreak’ from Liber Studiorum (Royal Academy of Arts)
Walmer Castle, Deal Turner had known the area since his schooldays around 1788. He thought the north Kent coast had the 'loveliest skies in Europe'
Walmer Castle, Deal

Turner had known the area since his schooldays around 1788. He thought the north Kent coast had the ‘loveliest skies in Europe’.

'The New Moon; or, I've Lost My Boat, You Shan't Have Your Hoop' (Tate Gallery)
‘The New Moon; or, I’ve Lost My Boat, You Shan’t Have Your Hoop’ (Tate Gallery)
Norham Castle, Northumberland
Norham Castle, Northumberland

Turner first saw Norham, the castle that sits on the river Tweed in Northumberland, in 1797. After that first visit, he made watercolours showing the ruin at sunrise. Later trips in 1801 and 1831 produced further views and paintings (North News & Pictures).

'Norham Castle' (Cecil Higgins Art Gallery)
‘Norham Castle’ (Cecil Higgins Art Gallery)
Kidwelly Castle
Kidwelly Castle

Kidwelly Castle was painted by Turner on his tour of South Wales (Dragon News Picture Agency).

'Kidwelly Castle, South Wales' (Royal Academy of Arts)
‘Kidwelly Castle, South Wales’ (Royal Academy of Arts)
Ludlow Castle in Shropshire
Ludlow Castle in Shropshire

Ludlow Castle in Shropshire inspired many painters during the C18th and C19th, from JMW Turner to Francis Towne, Thomas Hearne to William Marlowe and Julius Ibbetson to Peter de Wint (John Robertson).

'Ludlow Castle' (Christies)
‘Ludlow Castle’ (Christies)

Source: The Telegraph.