23 January 2020

HAG Talk: Sandycombe Lodge

Ham Amenities Group (HAG) arranges an interesting of local history talks that I would go to even if I was not involved in the group; I produced the poster on the right.

The talk on Sandycombe Lodge took us slightly away from Ham and just across the water to East Twickenham where England's most famous painter, JMW Turner, designed a house for his father and himself.

The lodge is now run by a charity, Turner’s House Trust, which aims to restore and conserve Sandycombe Lodge for the nation. I was able to visit it a couple of years ago as part of Open House London and had seen some of their work at first hand.

The talk covered the design of the house, which drew heavily on the work of Sir John Soane, the restoration work done in recent years and the life of Turner, father and son, in the house.

It was his father's main home, he walked into Central London to work!, while the artist spent most of his time away touring abroad and staying as a guest in country houses.

Little was said about Turner's paintings as there is no evidence that he did any painting there though he did several of the Arcadian Thames which had drawn him to build a house there.

The talk was detailed and fascinating and there were lots of pictures to help tell the story. I liked the little things like it was common to draw brick buildings as if they had been rendered, i.e. to not draw the details of the rows of bricks, and so it had been assumed that Sandycombe Lodge had been rendered when new (not later) but the detailed analysis of the penny struck pointing shows that it was originally bare brick.

Another minor but fascinating detail was the Sandycombe Road became Sandycoombe Road (with two 'o's) because of the confusion with another Sandycombe Road in Kew.

Little things like that kept me enthralled throughout.

Possibly due to the poster (!), the talk was very popular and there were people standing at the back with all the seats taken. I am quite happy to stand for long periods, lots of practise in bars, and gave my reserved seat up for somebody who appreciated it more.

I really enjoyed that talk and I learned a lot from it but what I enjoyed most was seeing a full room and gaining the satisfaction of knowing that HAG had arranged another great talk.

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