In about an hour from now, Hogarth’s House will once again be open to the public. Wonderful timing for the great man’s birthday this Thursday. After a total refurbishment that dragged on for three years because of serious fire damage in October 2009, the 1715 Grade 1 listed country retreat opens its doors to us at last. Hogarth lived in the place with his wife Jane from 1749 until his death in 1764. In those days the building was surrounded by fields. Today it goes largely unnoticed as thousands of cars zoom past each day on the A4 dual-carriageway.
Although William Hogarth extended the house to include a studio, its main function was a country retreat: he continued to do most of his work and business at his town house in what is now Leicester Square. The Hogarths made their home available as a wet nursery for foundlings left at Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital, an institution which Hogarth actively supported. [I haven’t got this quite right: please read Val Bott’s detailed comment]
The refurbishment project has been led by Val Bott, a distinguished local historian and museum consultant who is a trustee of the William Hogarth Trust. We’re proud also to have Val as a member of London Historians. She has been in charge of the decor and all new display materials which are substantial compared to previously. There is a section which features other owners and residents of the house over the years, something which was not really addressed prior to the restoration.
Here is a picture I took last Tuesday, when everywhere was a maelstrom of last-minute preparations. I shall visit during this week and add some interior shots.
9 November: And here they are. Mostly uncaptioned, I think they’re kind of self-explanatory to give you a flavour of the place and also to encourage you to go yourself and have a look! My overall impression: fabulous!
There are some more pictures on the History Today web site, here.
The house is free to visit and will be open every day except Mondays, from noon to 5pm. The best way to visit the house is to take the Tube to Turnham Green. Walk up Turnham Green Terrace and check out the 2001 statue of Hogarth and his pug on Chiswick High Road. From there it’s a 10-15 minute walk (best to use Devonshire Road, I reckon) to the house.