The window into the future of Orleans House Gallery

Release Date: 31/01/2017

Another rare find has been uncovered at Orleans House Gallery as the £3.6million restoration project reaches the half-way point.

An original 18th Century window frame hidden away in the Gallery’s Octagon Room has been unearthed this week as refurbishment works are underway. No stranger to rare archaeological finds, an 18th Century brick drain was also discovered shortly after the restoration project began in July last year.

So significant are these finds that the Gallery has commissioned specialist archaeologists to undertake some expert digging Time Team style and see what other treasures may be discovered. Experts believe that evidence suggests there could be a basement which may have formed part of the link building to the house which is located at the previous North Wing of the gallery which was demolished in the 1960s.

The Grade 1 listed Octagon Room, the Gallery’s main building, will be restored to its former glory as part of the overall restoration project. The very latest developments include a replacement carved gilded 18th Century style chandelier for the Octagon Room. A copy of the ‘Lost Panini’ painting which previously hanged above the fireplace in the Octagon Room will also be returned to its former home.

The funding for the £3.6m restoration project has been provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£1.8m) and Richmond Council (£1.8m). Quinn London has been appointed the main contractor for the building work and the restoration of the Octagon Room is being undertaken by Hare and Humphreys, a company that specialises in the restoration of historic buildings.

The restoration programme also includes:

  • New and improved facilities in the West Wing of the Gallery
  • New accessible entrance with lift to upper floors
  • New reception and gift shop
  • An upper floor extension which will provide additional spaces for a new study gallery, enlarged picture store, workshop and training room.

Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Pamela Fleming, said:

“Orleans House Gallery is steeped in history and these archaeological finds that we are unearthing as part of our ambitious restoration project are significant historical finds. These are exciting times for everyone involved with Orleans House Gallery and the finished project will be breathtaking.”

Orleans House Gallery will re-open in the autumn of 2017 with an exhibition focussing on the collectors which formed this much loved local asset and include the Rt Hon Nellie Ionides, Raymond Gill, Leslie Paton, John Cloake and Isabel Burton.

Updated: 31 January 2017