The 20th century history of the site is marked by decline, demolition, preservation and finally rebirth. Mrs. Nellie Ionides (1883-1962) is central to this story.
Nellie was born into a wealthy Hampton family, and later lived at Buxted Park in Sussex, and Riverside House next to Orleans House. She collected from an early age and later became an expert on Oriental porcelain. Nellie also collected nearly 500 local views, which now form the core of the Richmond Borough Art Collection.
In 1926, a firm of gravel merchants bought Orleans House. The main house and link building were demolished. Nellie purchased the remaining Octagon Room and stables to preserve the site and prevent redevelopment.
Nellie died in 1962. She bequeathed the buildings, site and her collection to the then Borough of Twickenham. The gallery opened to the public in 1972 and today’s thriving cultural and heritage hub is Nellie’s legacy for the local community to enjoy.