J.M.W. Turner-Designed House Saved From Destruction

J.M.W. Turner has never been so popular it seems. Thanks to Mike Leigh’s biopic Mr. Turner—and Tate Britain’s critically-acclaimed exhibition of the artist’s late works—the English painter dominated culture headlines for most of 2014.

This surge of enthusiasm might well have convinced the Heritage Lottery Fund to grant £1.4 million ($1.8 million) towards the restoration of Sandycombe Lodge in Twickenham, West London, the only known building designed by the painter himself. It currently stands in a dire state of disrepair, and is only open one afternoon a month.

Representative of the Turner House Trust Rosemary Vaux described the building to the Guardian as “a national treasure,” and explained the trust’s concerns that, without restoration, another bout of bad weather might have had terrible consequences.

Now thanks to the grant and additional funding sought by the trust, it will be restored to its original condition. Work will start this year, and the house is slated to reopen to the public in 2016. It will welcome visitors 46 weeks a year.

“The restoration of this modest, classical property introduces us to Turner, the architect, adding a whole new dimension to our understanding of this great artist,” Blondel Cluff, chair of the London committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, told the Guardian.

Turner and his father, with whom he had a very close relationship, lived in the house in what is now a suburb of London, between 1813 and 1926, when the artist sold it to move back to the center of town. Sandycombe Lodge changed hands several times, and was finally acquired by Harold Livermore in 1947. A Turner enthusiast, Livermore set up a trust in 2005, to which he bequeathed the house upon his death in 2010, alongside an extensive collection of works and documents related to Turner’s time in the area.

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