Pitzhanger Manor Restoration
Pitzhanger Case Study
Grade 1 listed Pitzhanger manor in Ealing West London is a rare example of a spectacular Soane building largely intact which stands today as a testament to Soane’s creative genius. From 1800 to 1804 Sir John Soane, one of Britain’s most influential architects, designed and built Pitzhanger Manor Recently conserved, restored and returned to Soane’s original design, funded by a £12m building programme generously supported by the HLF, Ealing Council, ACE and many others, the manor re-opened to the public in March 2019, and now houses a gallery featuring the work of some of the world’s most prestigious artists.
London Stone Carving Ltd were honoured to be enlisted to examine and re-interpret historic drawings and paintings in order to knowledgeably and sympathetically re-design and hand-carve two large ornate ‘Soane Rose’ roundels, a recurring motif in Soane’s architecture. These roundels are now installed on the external facade of Pitzhanger manor overlooking Walpole park. We also were charged with restoring, re-carving and replacing various elements of architectural and enriched ornamental stonework which now adorn the manor’s spectacular historic exterior.
- Clay work: Initially a bold full-scale model of the roundel was worked up in clay and agreed upon between the London Stone Carving Team and restoration team/architects on the Pitzhanger Manor restoration project.
- Mould making and casting: Once the practical and aesthetic design, style and degree of detail was agreed upon by all parties involved, we moved onto the casting phase; producing a silicone mould of the clay sculpture. This enabled a fine plaster cast to be produced to be worked from when carving the full pieces into Portland stone. This is a traditional and essential phase of the process, allowing the robust cast of the model to be worked from without fear of the clay sculpture deteriorating or being damaged during the long and pain-staking process of carving in stone.
- Carving: In keeping with the traditional methods which would have been employed to produce the original pieces, the roundels were worked entirely by hand, a method the London Stone Carving team insists upon. The stone was marked out using calipers and sinking squares, plotting out each section of the Soane Rose. This informs the first stage of the carving, taking off the bulk of the waste material ending up with geometric version of the final piece ensuring uniformity and precision. Then using fine carving chisels and a traditional mallet the intricacies of the design are transferred from the model. Working by hand ensures that every detail is worked with full and expert control, the tool marks and textures adding to the strength and vitality of the final piece, enriching the surface texture and ensuring that the forms read well; this is particularly important when a piece is to be installed at height and viewed from the ground level.
The pieces were very well received by the client and now in-situ work powerfully; catching light and shadow with dramatically enhancing the facade as Pitzhanger is approached from Walpole Park.