What can be seen of Gordon House today.
Traces of Victorian grandeur can still be found, from the Earl of
View of Gordon House with the clock tower, facing the River Thames
at Twickenham, near Old Isleworth.
Side view of Gordon House.
Gordon House and its remaining grounds, apart from the Mausoleum
site, were put up for sale by Brunel University around 2003; as it
was no longer required for education purposes. All the modern 1960's
and 1970's college building extensions were also started to be
demolished in 2003.
Having a 'smashing' time at the Gordon House grounds!
Some interesting information was found from an article in The Sunday Times concerning the development of the site.
From March 4, 2007
A huge mansion on the Thames that is being restored for sale heralds the next trophy house trend, finds Cally Law.
When Octagon, the developer in question, bought Gordon House in St Margarets, it was part of the 14-acre former Brunel University Twickenham site. It came with a chapel and stable block, has views over Old Deer Park and, along the river, to Isleworth Ait and the London Eye.
The company soon ditched the idea of eight flats, flirted briefly with just three separate units, then decided to go for broke. Gordon House is to be renovated and restored during the next 18 months to all its original Grade II*-listed splendour. Right now it’s a building site, and not for sale, but already there have been discreet approaches by the agents of several foreign buyers, all anxious to procure that rare commodity: a truly grand home with vast rooms and an imposing facade.
The mansion, described by Nikolaus Pevsner as “early Victorian Italianate”, is certainly a catch. This is possibly, at 14,000sq ft, the largest private house on the river between Twickenham and Westminster. There’s a great staircase in an imposing stone-flagged entrance hall, a clock tower and a dining room that will seat 30, with elbow room. Best of all, though, is the ballroom, part of a genuine Robert Adam extension to the house with dome ceiling, frieze work, the lot. The fireplace is so valuable the developers have moved it to a lockup location for the duration of the project.
Two years is a long time in property price terms, so it’s anybody’s guess what the house will eventually sell for, but the mood is bullish.
“The new demand for single grand houses is such that we’ll get an end user happy to pay north of £10m, probably £12m or so,” says Colin Nicholson, Octagon’s development manager. “There’s a long way to go, and we will be employing artists, joiners, stonemasons. This is not something we can rush.”
Nicholson hopes to find paintings behind the panels of the Adam ceiling. This will involve building a birdcage scaffold and hiring specialist restorers to peel back layers of paint. He has Adam’s original plans, and intends to copy details from the architect’s work at Kenwood House in north London.
It’s a laborious business, but it should be worth it. Robert Leigh, managing director of estate agency Featherstone Leigh, will be handling the eventual sale, and he talks of a selling price of more than £13m.
“London is increasingly affluent, and the market for mansion houses has expanded,” he says. “There has been a definite shift towards grander family homes. In Richmond we have started to get inquiries from Russian relocation agents — and we’ve always had media stars and Arab royalty.”Click here for a brief history of the Mausoleum
The front view of Gordon House photographed in 1973, when it was still used as a college.
The front view of Gordon House today, after it's luxury redevelopment.
In recent times, Gordon House has been used as university offices, but Nicholson has unearthed a long romantic history. In 1758, it belonged to a General Humphrey Bland, who gave Robert Adam his first contract in England, to design and build that ballroom extension.
Later it became the home of Francis Jack Needham, second Earl of Kilmorey, who ran away from school to join Wellington’s army in the Pensinsular war, and was a member of the notorious Hell Fire Club.
At the time, St Margarets was a fashionable area of large villas surrounded by small estates, and Kilmorey intended to stay only until he could move into a bigger, better house he was building next door. Sadly, Priscilla Hoste died in 1854, before the new house was complete, and Kilmorey commissioned an Egyptian-style mausoleum for her body. At £30,000, it was extraordinarily expensive for its time. The grief-stricken earl left, hauling the mausoleum with him on his travels. He returned in 1868, depositing the tomb in a corner of the estate, linked by tunnel to the house. It is said he sometimes dressed in a shroud and lay in his coffin on a trolley, to be pushed on practice runs from the house to his eventual resting place.
The tunnel is long gone, but Octagon will retain all the interior period features at Gordon House. The master suite, in the upper part of Adam’s extension, will have a staircase leading from the sun-filled sitting room, via the new gym, to the new pool. The kitchen will be state-of-the-art, and staff will be accommodated above the old stable block.
The Surrey-based developer is not unfamiliar with converting large period properties back into single dwellings, and has restored Chester House on Wimbledon Common — once bank training offices — and the Manor House in Walton-on-Thames, a former school for deaf children. This one is something special, though, with a restoration budget of about £4m.
“I love doing this building, but it’s one of the most complicated we’ve done,” says Nicholson. “It’s a massive market, but you have to get it right. You need it all: quality, history, location and grandeur. That’s what these people are looking for.”
For somebody out there with exceedingly deep pockets, the search will soon be over.
It's interesting to note from this article, that things never change, they just repeat themselves!
From being an exclusive private mansion property with land, where only a few privileged people visited, in the Earl of Kilmorey's time in 1868; it eventually became a public access college, and has now returned to an exclusive gated re-development for the extremely wealthy! How history goes in circles....
View today of the now disused main entry gate in St. Margaret's road, with the reclining lion statues. The moulded stone work 'K' design of Lord Kilmorey can still be seen.