Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Transforming Orleans House project. The £3.2m project aims to preserve and make accessible the important heritage assets that comprise the Orleans House Gallery site, including restoring the grade one listed Octagon Room and increase public access to the Richmond upon Thames Borough Art Collection.
Development funding of £235,050 has been awarded to help Orleans House Gallery progress their plans for a stage 2 application by the end of 2014.
The project will restore the stunning James Gibbs designed Octagon Room; restore the North wing, a former service wing, closer to its original appearance; introduce a Study Room showcasing works from the Richmond upon Thames Borough Art Collection; increase the size of the picture store; and make the upper levels accessible for the first time through the introduction of a lift.
Cllr Gareth Evans, Cabinet Member for Community, Business and Culture, said:
“Orleans House is a hugely important part of our borough’s rich heritage. This exciting project will restore and transform the surviving buildings, significantly expanding what is already a thriving cultural and heritage hub for the local community to enjoy”
Sue Bowers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said:
“We look forward to receiving the detailed plans showing how this important listed building can be restored and conserved so that public access to the borough’s considerable heritage can be enhanced.”
Improving and preserving and making accessible its heritage and collections will enable Orleans House to engage people in the whole site and the river landscape, creating a thriving heritage hub for the whole of West London.
The development will provide benefits for the community, working in partnership with local organisations, including other heritage sites. The project will provide new opportunities for people to volunteer and learn about the rich heritage of this site and the borough through a new heritage focussed education, skills training and interpretation programme.
Orleans House was built in 1710 for James Johnston, Secretary of State for Scotland, as a retirement villa. It was visited by George II and Queen Caroline in 1729. Caroline dined in luxury in the 1720 James Gibbs-designed Octagon Room, which still stands – one of the finest examples of baroque garden architecture in the country. The house was later named after its most famous resident, Louis Philippe, the Duc D’Orleans who made this his home in exile between 1815-17.
He returned to visit his former retreat, accompanied by Queen Victoria, in 1848 as King of the French. His son, the Duc D’Aumale later made the house his home for nearly two decades and the surviving Stables block dates from his residency.
The main building and conservatory of Orleans House were tragically demolished in 1926. Luckily the remains were saved by the Hon. Mrs Nellie Ionides and left to the borough on her death in 1962.