• History of Orleans Gardens

‘ . . But the greatest shock . . was . . the demolition of yet another of Twickenham’s great houses, Orleans House . . Noel Brady’s efforts to create an Orleans House Committee and to negotiate with the owners all came to nought in March 1926. Thinking he had secured an agreement on a Monday to divide the estate of Orleans House into three for different sets of bargaining, he found on the following Saturday that money had already changed hands, and that the whole property was in the posses­sion of a gravel extraction company which intended to demolish the house immediately. Within three weeks the whole house had disappeared, apart from the Octagon Room designed by James Gibbs.

Ionides jul07

The Hon Mrs Nelly Ionides [formerly Levy]

New pres scheme 1 29.10.26New pres scheme 2 29.10.26

Times October 29 1926

The bargaining had been taken over by the Hon. Mrs Nellie Levy who had recently bought the property next door, Riverside House. It was her generosity that saved the area for public recreation . . Her husband . . had died in 1923 of infections acquired from the war trenches of Flanders. She agreed to subscribe [a quarter of the £10,000 purchase price for] the meadow which bordered the river in order to create a public park that would be an extension of the facilities along the towpath by the side of Marble Hill House. The gravel extraction proceeded on the rest of the property . . ‘ [which she also bought for £5000 when the gravel digging had ended].

from The Making of Modern Twickenham, Ch. 4 Expanding the borough pp. 88-9. J M Lee; London: Historical Publication Ltd. 2005.

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‘ . . the [Orleans] estate [was sold] to the shipping magnate William Cunard in 1882 . .  [and then after ] after WWI to the Crane River Sand and Ballast Company who demolished the house and excavated over 200,000 tons of sand and gravel from the site . . in 1927 what remained of the buildings, including the Octagon, . . were rescued from demolition when the Hon. Mrs Nellie Levy . . purchased the property, pledging that if she decided to sell she would give first refusal to Twickenham Corporation. In 1930 she married her 2nd husband, architect Basil Ionides.

Mrs Ionides also bought the adjacent Riverside House and contributed £2,500 towards the sum of £10,000 needed by the Corporation to buy Orleans Gardens. The riverside prospect of Orleans House had been preserved under a condition of sale of the Cunard executors that prohibited building anything other than a boathouse or greenhouse between the house and river.

In 1956 she made known that she would bequeath Orleans House and Riverside House to Twickenham Borough Council together with her collection of C18th and C19th pictures with the proviso that Orleans House should be used as a public art gallery. After her death in 1962, the building was converted as Orleans House Gallery, which opened in 1972 and housed the Borough art collection, which included the Ionides pictures, the Paton Bequest, and Sir Richard Burton Collection . . ‘

London Gardens Online

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