Soane's London

Pitzhanger Manor

Collections | Soane's London | Pitzhanger Manor

By 1800 Soane had built himself a successful career, inherited a fortune, gained a young family and built his own town house at No. 12 Lincoln's Inn Fields. The next thing he wanted was a house in the country – to confirm his position in society and to provide space for his ever expanding collection of art and artefacts. He first bought a plot of land at Acton, early in 1800.

However, this project was quickly abandoned when Pitzhanger Manor (one of the first buildings Soane had worked on as a young assistant in George Dance the Younger's office) came up for sale.

Of the old Pitzhanger, Soane kept the wing designed by Dance with its large eating room, and drawing room. The rest was demolished in favour of a yellow stock-brick villa, with six principal rooms: a breakfast room, library, drawing room and three bedrooms. Service buildings at the back were connected to the house by a courtyard. Mock-ruins were also added to the grounds, to appear as if the remains of a Roman temple had been discovered there.

Soane's residence at Pitzhanger was short-lived, however. Mrs Soane's declining health made the upkeep of two residences impractical and the house was sold in 1810. The house was subsequently much altered in its reincarnations as a home for the Perceval sisters and as a public library. The principal Soane rooms were restored in the mid-1980s and the house has been open as a museum since 1987. Further Soane restorations are planned for the future.

Elevation and details for the gated entrance

Plan, elevation and detail for the gated entrance

Soane Office, with extensive revisions in Soane’s hand
17 Nov. 1801 (with later revisions)
Pencil, pen and coloured washes on paper
32/1/13 (Pitzhanger drawing 178)

Hatching and grey wash indicate the building materials used – red brick with flint pilasters. The structure itself displays two forms of ornament peculiar to Soane: the 'canopy dome caps' on top of each pier and the 'scrolled acroterion' enclosing a wreathed eagle on top of the arch. The wreathed eagle design was taken from a Piranesi engraving of the church of SS. Apostoli in Rome in Soane's collection. The gated entrance was restored during the 1980s.