If, like me, you love pottering round country houses and swooning at their beauty, but don’t drive and find it really hard to get them – country houses obviously being in the country, a.k.a huge areas of parkland in the middle of nowhere – then here’s a treat for you. Pitzhanger Manor was originally built in the countryside of Ealing, but thanks to Ealing becoming very much a part of west London, this stunning house is just minutes from Ealing Broadway tube station. Built in 1800 by legendary architect Sir John Soane to be his weekend countryside pad, this Italian-style villa is a bewitching mix of levels, colour and light, elements Soane also played with at his London home (now open to the public as Sir John Soane’s Museum). Pitzhanger has gone through a major restoration to return it to how it looked in Soane’s day, including a striking sienna marble-style entrance hall and a conservatory overlooking Walpole Park (formerly his garden where he’d go fishing with the painter, Turner). The drawing room (top picture) has hand-painted wallpaper that took six months to complete, and if that wasn’t enticing enough, there’s also a gallery that will feature three major exhibitions a year, the first one by Anish Kapoor, a brand new cafe (Soane’s Kitchen) serving amazing cakes, and inside the main entrance there’s the best country house gift shop I’ve ever seen.
Pitzhanger Manor opens on 16th March with free entry all weekend (tickets must be booked online) and activities for children. Entry to the manor and gallery is £7 (concessions available), annual membership is from £25, the house is open Tuesday-Sunday, talks and events throughout the year. Photos courtesy of Pitzhanger Manor.