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Published March 6th 2013
A secluded art gallery by the Thames
In 1702 retired politician James Johnston acquired the lease for a plot of land close to the Thames at Twickenham. In 1710 he commissioned the building of a new house, completing it ten years later with the addition of the Octagon Room, designed by James Gibbs. Over the course of the next decade Johnston entertained prominent members of the Royal Family, including George I and Queen Caroline, the wife of George II. The house changed hands a couple of times over the following eighty years before it was rented by Louis Philippe Duc d'Orleans, a Frenchman in exile from Napoleon. He only remained in Twickenham for two years, but returned to visit in the 1840s after becoming King of France; in 1852 Coutts bank purchased the house for his son, the Duc d'Aumale.
The House in 1844 (Image Courtesy of Wikipedia)
After several more changes of ownership Orleans House, which had taken on the name of its earlier French resident, was demolished in 1926, leaving just the Octagon Room and several outbuildings.
The Octagon Room
The buildings and the site, including the impressive Octagon Room, were refurbished a few years ago and are the home to several art exhibitions each year, as well as to a small shop. The current exhibition is Noah's Art, with three further exhibitions to follow throughout 2013. The house also runs art workshops for all ages, including pre-school children.
Downstairs at Orleans House Gallery
Orleans House is set in secluded and tranquil grounds close to the Thames, which can be seen from the upper gallery. You can stroll in the grounds and along the river when the weather is fine and drop into the North Stables Cafť for hot and cold drinks, breakfast, light lunches and afternoon teas. The grounds also provide the location for the Twickenham Holi festival, which will be held on 23 March this year.
Statue in the Grounds
Whatever you do, don't eat what these ladies did, or you might find you lose a great deal of weight, as well as your arms.
Outside the Gallery
Entrance to the ground and gallery are both free, as is the car park, which has several disabled spaces.
Donít forget itís the luxury Christmas Fair at Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham tomorrow. If you are looking for distinctive seasonal gifts, please come along. Its free admission and open from 2.00pm until 7.00pm. There will be free festive nibbles and mulled wine!
Tomorrow is also the first day of the Stables Gallery Richmond Printmakers exhibition Points of View and you can visit the stunning Madge Gill: Medium & Visionary retrospective in the main gallery.