To Ealing, on a sunny Saturday, to visit Pitzhanger Manor, the country house of Sir John Soane.
Firstly, I was very surprised to find that the Manor was so close to the shops of the town centre – and consequently very shocked with myself for not having been there before!
In my mind’s eye I had pictured the manor in the midst of fields (as it must once have been). Quite where I imagined the fields to be today, in the middle of Ealing, I don’t know.
The house is beautiful, set back from the road and on the edge of the lovely Walpole Park. With beautifully planted beds filled with summer flowers to the front, and the sweep of parkland and mature trees behind, the situation is charming. Apparently Sir John’s wife found the house far too isolated in the early 1800s – she certainly wouldn’t have that problem today, with a bustling shopping centre full of coffee shops all around her.
Newly refurbished, the house has many typical Soanian touches (curving ceilings, antique details, coloured window glass and lots of scagliola columns) but it is also very comfortably sized, with a library, conservatory, large dining room and lovely drawing room above.
Alongside the house stands the new gallery, in the annexe which would originally have housed the kitchens and servants quarters. This is where the fun starts – an exhibition of new works by Anish Kapoor.
These are really delightful – all to do with mirrors and transformation. It’s a really joyous exhibition, with everybody laughing and playing, squeaking and bouncing in front of the different mirrored objects, whose reflections turn you upside down or make you thinner or fatter, just like the House of Mirrors at the fair. The Anish Kapoor exhibition runs until August 18th. Details can be found here