Saving Mr Turner’s country retreat
There cannot be many people who are unaware of the imminent general release of Mike Leigh’s award-winning Mr Turner, the biographical film of one of the supreme masters of landscape, England’s JMW Turner.
What is less widely known is that Turner might have pursued a different career as an architect and that he designed and built a country villa for use by himself and his father. Completed in 1813 Sandycombe Lodge near the Thames between Richmond and Twickenham, was Turner’s retreat to escape the hectic London art world and the hurly-burly of his own household.
Mike Leigh together with actors Timothy Spall, highly praised for his portrayal of Turner, Paul Jesson as Turner’s father and Nick Jones as Sir John Soane, visited this three-dimensional Turner creation in the early stages of their work on the film.
Although the film is set later in Turner’s life, the director and actors wanted to learn as much as possible about the man behind the pictures. From here he would sketch along the Thames on foot, fish on the river and occasionally entertain his friends including Sir John Soane, architect and fellow-fisherman, whose influence is apparent throughout Sandycombe.
Grade 2* listed Turner’s House is largely unspoilt apart from some later additions, but seriously threatened by damp and long neglect it is now on English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk Register and badly in need of restoration.
Turner’s House Trust is appealing to the nation for help to save it from dereliction. “With additional damage caused by extreme weather conditions in recent years, this is now urgent. We have generous promises of grants and funding, which we must match in order to proceed,” said Catherin Parry-Wingfield, chairman of Turner’s House Trust. “With every pound we are closer to saving this Turner ‘treasure’ for future generations, but we still have a long way to go. We hope that, as this new film will no doubt inspire people to visit the artist’s wonderful masterpieces in our galleries, they will also support a lasting legacy for his country home to be enjoyed by future generations.”
For more information about Turner’s House and the appeal visit www.turnerintwickenham.org.uk