Located close to the River Thames in south-west London, Sandycombe Lodge was designed and built by the artist JMW Turner as a country retreat.
The Twickenham property, which was constructed in 1812-13 on land the famed “painter of light” had bought six years earlier, also provided a home for Turner’s father, ‘Old William’, who was a retired Covent Garden barber and wigmaker. Old William would tend the garden and keep the house when Joseph Mallord William Turner, who is best known for his expressive landscapes and marine paintings, wasn’t present.
The finished property featured a large sitting room overlooking the expansive garden. It was initially known as Solus Lodge and the name later changed to Sandycombe.
Turner would use the home as a base for sketching and fishing trips. He painted many scenes of local landscapes including, notably, England: Richmond Hill on the Prince Regent’s Birthday in 1819.
Among those who visited Turner at the property was his friend and fishing companion, Sir John Soane (his influence can be seen on the home’s design in features such as the use of arches inside and the skylight above the stairs).
Turner, who also had a property in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where he died in 1851, only had the house for 13 years – with his father’s health declining and his own touring schedule which meant he wasn’t able to spend as much time at the property as he would have liked, Turner sold Sandycombe in 1826 to his neighbour Joseph Todd. Todd, the owner of Twickenham Park, enlarged the villa and rented it out.
It subsequently passed through numerous hands (the large grounds around gradually diminishing).
Used as a factory for making goggles in World War II, it was in a poor state when purchased by Professor Harold Livermore and his wife Ann in 1947. In the 1950s, they secured a Grade II*-listing for the property and later set up the The Sandycombe Lodge Trust, now Turner’s House Trust, in 2005.
On Livermore’s death in 2010 at the age of 95, the trust became the owner of Sandycombe. Following a significant restoration which aimed to take the house back to Turner’s original designs and which was completed in 2017, it opened to the public as a museum.
Displayed in the house are some of Turner’s sketches as well as model ships he used in creating his art. A ‘speaking clock’ captures recollections of friends and Old William is brought to life digitally in the basement. What remains of the gardens have also been restored.
The house features an English Heritage Blue Plaque.
WHERE: Sandycombe Lodge, 40 Sandycoombe Road, St Margarets, Twickenham (nearest rail is St Margarets; nearest Tube station is Richmond); WHEN: 12pm to 4pm Wednesday to Sunday (until 2nd July); COST: £8 adults/£3 child (3 to 15 years)/£17 family; WEBSITE: https://turnershouse.org.