What’s on

14 September – 18 September 2020
Free, with optional £5 donation


Twickenham Luminaries: A Virtual Lecture Series

14 September – 18 September 2020
Free, with optional £5 donation


We are delighted to be collaborating with Marble Hill House, Pope’s Grotto, Strawberry Hill House and Turner’s House to deliver a week of online lectures about an important individual associated with each historic building.

Talks will start at 6pm and last for approximately 20 minutes, with questions and answers after. The event will end before 7 pm. The talks will be delivered on Zoom with the link sent by email approximately one hour before the talk begins.

Tickets are free, with an optional £5 donation and the proceeds going to the five participating organisations.

Monday 14th September: Nellie Ionides and Orleans House, Minna Andersen

Orleans House was a home and meeting place for royalty, politicians and gentry in the two centuries it stood on the Twickenham riverside. It could be argued that the borough was deprived of one of its most historic buildings when it was demolished in 1926. Without the foresight of local resident The Honourable Nellie Ionides, it is likely that the glorious Octagon Room would have suffered the same fate. Reputed to be the richest woman in England in the 1950s, join us in this talk to discover Nellie’s life, love of art and dogs, and her legacy within the Twickenham community

Minna Andersen is a London Blue Badge Tourist Guide. Over the past 30 years, she has worked with embassies, government bodies, industry VIPs and heads of state, assisting their visits to London and offering them tailor made experiences. They have ranged from art gallery tours and visits to famous London sights to specialist walking tours. She frequently appears in Finnish TV and news to promote all aspects of London. She is a volunteer with Orleans House Gallery and the Poppy Factory, using her skills as a speaker and as a guide to bring their history to life once more.

Tuesday 15th September: Henrietta Howard and Marble Hill House, Dr Megan Leyland

Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, (1689-1767) has perhaps been best known as mistress to the Prince of Wales, later George II. However, this talk will show that Howard was much more than a mistress. She overcame personal adversity to become an extraordinary figure in the Georgian court and a member of a dynamic circle of writers, poets and politicians. Arguably, one of her greatest achievements was the construction of her elegant Palladian villa, Marble Hill, and the gardens that surround it. This talk will explore how Marble Hill fits into Howard’s fascinating life story, Howard’s role in its creation, and her life at this most hard fought for retreat. Set within 66 acres of now public parkland, Marble Hill is the heart of our community but lives with the enormous legacy of a strong, talented and resourceful woman at its helm.

Dr Megan Leyland is a Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage specialising in country houses and with a strong interest in gender history. She is responsible for undertaking research and producing content to support new interpretation and dissemination projects, and is currently working on a number of sites including Marble Hill, Kirby Hall and Bolsover Castle.

Wednesday 16th September: Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill, Michael Snodin

Horace Walpole was the son of Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole. He devoted his life to politics, the arts, antiquarianism, history, collecting and authorship and, from 1749, the creation of Strawberry Hill, his summer villa. The most significant building of the early Gothic revival, it was a place of the imagination, that inspired Walpole to write The Castle of Otranto , the first Gothic novel. Outside, it was designed to look like an ancient castle, the ancestral seat of the Walpoles. Its interiors formed a dramatic mood journey composed of changing colour harmonies and darkness and light, the rooms filled with a huge collection of art and antiquities. This talk will explore Walpole’s greatest creative achievement, and how it was the clearest manifestation of his personality, interests and place in the world.

Michael Snodin is an architectural and design historian. He is chair of the Strawberry Hill Collection Trust and was previously chair of the Strawberry Hill Trust and Head of Designs and a Senior Research Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum. His publications include Design and the Decorative Arts: Britain 1500-1900 (V&A 2001) and Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill (Yale 2009).

Thursday 17th September: Pope and His Villa, Professor Judith Hawley

More images were created of the exterior Alexander Pope’s Thameside villa than of any other private residence in the eighteenth century. It was an icon of his work as a classicist, poet and satirist and a gathering place for those opposed to Robert Walpole’s government. Jonathan Swift, John Gay, Lord Bolingbroke and Voltaire counted among his guests. After his death, his home and garden attracted so many visitors that a later owner razed the villa to the ground in order to preserve her privacy. This talk will consider what the villa meant to Pope himself and attempt to recreate what it might have been like for him to live and work there, surrounded by reminders of his friendships and cultural influences.

Judith Hawley is Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has published on numerous eighteenth-century subjects and appears frequently on radio and TV sharing her interests in eighteenth-century culture with a wider audience. She is a Trustee of the Pope’s Grotto Preservation Trust.

Friday 18th September: Sir John Soane and Turner’s House,  Ricky Craig Pound

This talk will explore the close relationship between Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) and his friend and fellow fisherman, the architect Sir John Soane (1753–1837). It will look specifically at Turner’s design for his suburban retreat at Twickenham and illustrate how Soane’s fascination for classical and Renaissance architecture helped Turner define its appearance and implied associations.

Ricky Pound is the current House Director and a Trustee of Turner’s House. Previously he was the House Manager of Chiswick House and Marble Hill House and Gardens, both managed by English Heritage. In 2016 he curated a major exhibition on the Georgian landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown at Orleans House Gallery. He specialises in 17th and 18th century architectural history, symbolism and garden design.