The Twickenham Museum
For children

Orleans House
'a vast esteat to entertain soe many'

The Octagon, designed by James Gibbs for Mr Secretary Johnston in about 1718

Demolition for gravel

In 1926 a grand old 18th century house, Orleans House, was demolished. The site once included all the land now occupied by Orleans Park School. It had been bought by a gravel merchant who dug out 200,000 tons of gravel from the site.

Only the Octagon, one wing and the stable block now survive. The Octagon and wing are elegant examples of ‘baroque’ architecture – highly decorated and ornamented.

Mr Secretary Johnston's house as pictured in Vitruvius Britannicus published by Colen Campbell in 1715

Who lived here?

Over the years many families had lived in the house. Louis Philippe, Duc d'Orleans, later the French King lived here for 2 years in the 19th century.

Proposals for improvement by Lord Kilmorey as designed by Henry Kendall Jr, not executed (by courtesy of Orleans House Gallery).

New uses for the Octagon

The Octagon was used in a television version of Great Expectations by Dickens.

Today the Octagon and remaining buildings of the Orleans House Estate, including the stables have become an art gallery. The Gallery shows work by local artists and exhibitions of prints and original paintings of the area. The gardens are allowed to grow wild as a peaceful haven.

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