The Twickenham villa of one of Britain’s greatest landscape painters is to be saved and restored, thanks to a grant of £1.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and pulled from its at risk register. Sandycombe Lodge was the country retreat of JMW Turner from 1813 to 1826. The painter, who originally trained as an architect, designed the house for himself and his father and, although subject to later alteration, it remains the only surviving property in this country designed by a major artist for his own use. The Grade II* listed structure will now be sensitively restored by Turner’s House Trust.
Later additions to the early 19th century property will be removed to return it to Turner’s own design. Period furnishing will be minimal presenting a number of thought provoking themes for visitors, including Turner the painter, his personal and domestic life, Turner the architect and the historical context of the period in which the artist lived.
Visitors will in future have the benefit of state-of-the-art digital technology providing information via a new website and through mobile devices while those with restricted mobility will be able to enjoy a 3D virtual tour of the first floor and basement of the property.
The project will build on existing educational programmes with special access for professionals and students involved in architecture and conservation while new opportunities for volunteer training will be created. A collection of artworks relating to Turner will be cleaned and catalogued as part of the furnishing of the restored house.
At present The Lodge is only open to the public one afternoon per month and for special events with group visits booked by arrangement. After the restoration is completed in 2016 it will be open for 46 weeks per year. Throughout the entire consultation and planning process for the project Turner’s House Trust has acknowledged that it is extremely sensitive to the issues of opening a small historic property in a residential area.
Blondel Cluff, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund London Committee, said: “Interest in Turner has never been greater, as reflected in the success of the recent biographical film and the current 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.”
For Turner’s House Trust chair Catherine Parry-Wingfield said: “The Heritage Lottery Fund’s award is the most wonderful news and will allow the Trust to bring this beautiful building back to life.”
The project calls for the recruitment of more than 60 volunteers to carry out a range of roles including stewards, hosts, tour guides and gardeners. There will be INSET days for teachers and arts professionals in the restored house and two one-year heritage traineeships and trainee placements for a carpenter and joiner.
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