A Tour of Turner’s House, London

Join me on a tour of  Turner’s House London.  JMW Turner was a watercolour painter.  Not your nice genteel watercolours but swirling, expressive, explosions of feeling.  He was a Londoner, born in Covent Garden the son of a barber and wig maker.  Once he had made money he fancied a country retreat, so bought a large plot of land and set about building Sandycombe Lodge.

Simple brick built Georgian house, front door and one window Turners House


You know you’ve arrived at Turner’s House, just a short walk away from St Margaret’s train station, because it is the one with the blue plaque.  It is also a lot smaller that the spacious Victorian villas that surround it.  When Turner came here it was all open fields and river views and no convenient railway line.

J M W Turner Blue Plaque

The house itself is small, one big bedroom, one tiny bedroom, three modest reception rooms and a kitchen.  Truly a country retreat and not a grand residence to impress.  Turner designed the house himself, he had trained as an architectural draughtsman before turning to painting.  His good friend Sir John Soane kept a close eye on the designs.  You can see Soane’s influence in the graceful arches and light wells.

Turners House Hall light

Once upon a time the views from the windows would have been rural, not suburban.  In one of the sitting rooms that view has been recreated.  For a minute you can forget that you are surrounded by houses as far as the eye can see!

Window Sandycombe Lodge


Sandycombe Lodge might be small but it has a magnificent staircase.  I confess that I (and my camera) loved looking up to lantern designed by Turner.

Looking up a stairwell to a fancy stair lantern light

And looking down with the rather wonderful carpet curving round.

Looking down a curving staircase with blue carpet at Turner's House

Upstairs in Turner’s bedroom is a telescope.  Turner liked to look out down to the river.  Maybe he was watching for the approach of his friends who lived nearby.  Alexander Pope had a house on the river, Henrietta Howard lived at Marble Hill House and Horace Walpole was a skip away at Strawberry Hill House.

JMW Turner bedroom

To help you imagine that rural idyll that Turner would have looked on the Turner House Trust have cleverly made the view that you see through the telescope similar to the one that Turner would have seen.

Turner Telescope view


Turner purchased two plots of land in 1807 and set about designing the house.  In 1813 the small house, surrounded by a large garden was ready to move into.  Turner already had two houses in the centre of London one in Cheyene Walk and the other in Marylebone, so Sandycombe Lodge was more of a weekend cottage for him.

Turner’s father, William, however moved into the house and lived there permanently acting as a housekeeper.  You can see his shadow and hear his story in the kitchen.  Why the kitchen?  The house is beautiful but cold and so William probably spent most of his time here in the warmest room, sleeping as well cooking.

Shadow of Turner's father in Turner's House Kitchen

Turner sold the house in 1828 (although he cannily kept some of the land, which he sold later at a great profit as the new railway pushed up land values).  The next owner extended the house.  As part of the restoration these additions have been removed and original brickwork and ‘penny line’ pointing revealed.

Turners House rear view

In the early twentieth century the house was purchased by Professor Livermore.  The Professor knew of the house’s history and ensured that house was listed as Grade II*.  When he died Sandycombe Lodge was left to the Turner’s House Trust who embarked on a £2.4 million restoration.


Thanks to railway visiting Turner’s House, London is easy.  It is four minute walk from St Margarets station, which is in turn 30 minutes away from London Waterloo.  You could drive, but parking would be tricky.  The house too small to allow for a cafe but there are several to be found near the train station.

  • Self guided tours Wednesday – Sunday Noon – 6pm 
  • Guided tours Wednesday – Sunday 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm when available
  • Admission: Adults £12
  • Winter closing November – January
  • Sandycombe Lodge, 40 Sandycoombe Road, St Margarets , Twickenham TW1 2LR

If your appetite for historic houses is whetted check out my post about more Historic London Houses to visit.


Tour of Turner's House London


  1. September 19, 2018 / 8:41 am

    What a marvellous place, and Iove that staircase too! Thanks for the tour, I’m adding it to the visit wishlist

  2. September 19, 2018 / 9:04 am

    Gorgeous staircase, Catherine and informative as ever – maybe you could do a whole collection of cultural stairs??

    • September 19, 2018 / 9:06 am

      To go with my cultural ducks!

  3. September 19, 2018 / 7:49 pm

    Is that a special blind in the sitting room? Quite fancy one of those myself. What a great house. Looks like a lovely place to visit.

    • September 19, 2018 / 7:50 pm

      I think that it is special film, rather than a blind

  4. September 20, 2018 / 1:13 pm

    Thats one beautiful staircase! So much history! I found your blog via the #bibs shortlist – good luck!

    • September 20, 2018 / 1:19 pm

      Thank you! Isn’t it just, I love a staircase!

  5. Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    September 21, 2018 / 7:44 am

    I can just imagine how perfect the house would have been,with magnificent views. I love the shape of it, externally, and the curve of the staircase too.
    The shadow is a very clever idea.
    Good luck in the Bibs!

    • September 21, 2018 / 7:54 am

      Thank you, Turner was a clever chap!

  6. bavariansojourn
    September 21, 2018 / 7:56 am

    How funny. I often walked past this house and wondered who built it (I don’t think it’s had a blue plaque all that long), it looked so out of sync with the rest of the road!

    • September 21, 2018 / 7:57 am

      That is funny! I think that the blue plaque is quite new.

  7. September 21, 2018 / 8:35 am

    What a beautiful house and a truly educational visit (and read). I love the little extras the Trust have added like the window and telescope views and the shadow of his father. #CulturedKids

  8. September 21, 2018 / 9:40 am

    I love the shadow of his father, a great detail. Very fortunate that the house fell into the right hands so that it’s now available for us all to see. #culturedkids

  9. September 21, 2018 / 10:21 am

    Fascinating that this used to be a rural location. I do wonder what he would think to the location now! #culturedkids

  10. September 21, 2018 / 11:38 am

    What a special place to visit. I love the recreations of the rural scenery and the shadow in the kitchen. Even though it’s so small it sounds like the house’s story is told very well #culturedkids

    • September 21, 2018 / 11:43 am

      The hi tech way of telling the story never intrudes on the house, it’s all very clever

  11. September 21, 2018 / 6:41 pm

    Visiting historical homes has a way of bringing history to life for me. I love that the restorers provided a way to see what the area looked like during his life. #CulturedKids

  12. lincalinca
    September 22, 2018 / 11:26 am

    This house looks like a perfect place for fashion photoshoots! Some old-time dresses and high up-do’s would look amazing here :)

  13. September 22, 2018 / 12:09 pm

    Just got back from London and saw many of Turner’s paintings! I might actually be visiting London soon again so I will keep this in mind. I love the old English houses, they are just so cute!

  14. September 22, 2018 / 12:26 pm

    Whoa, I remember seeing this in the Turner film! I definitely need to add this to my next London trip! The bedroom was definitely my favorite, its so quaint. Thanks for the knowledge!

  15. September 22, 2018 / 2:30 pm

    Can you believe this is literally
    Minutes away frommme and I’ve never been!

  16. September 22, 2018 / 3:07 pm

    Beautiful staircase, I loved the swirl blue with the staircase. Thank you so much for this post. #culturekids

  17. Susanna Bavin
    September 23, 2018 / 10:47 am

    Love those staircase photos. I want that blue stair carpet! Another excellent blog, Catherine.

  18. September 23, 2018 / 11:15 am

    I love Turner and the house looks lovely, great post as usual Catherine! I reckon though our cheeky monkeys need another year to visit, so bookmarking for later! #culturedkids

  19. September 23, 2018 / 10:17 pm

    I just did not know this existed, but it looks lovely – such wonderful artistic touches (you’ve really done them justice with the pics too). I’d really like a visit, and it’s so near (I went past this stop a few weeks ago on a train from Waterloo!) #culturedkids

  20. September 24, 2018 / 9:30 am

    It’s always interesting to have a sneak peek into the lives of others. I think the speaking shadow to be eery though. #CulturedKids

    • September 24, 2018 / 9:34 am

      I admit that it does sound eerie but was actually not at all

  21. September 24, 2018 / 5:17 pm

    Great review Catherine, it’s such a lovely house to visit. I hadn’t realised Turner had quite so many homes!

    • September 24, 2018 / 5:32 pm

      I suppose that if you are a superstar painter you can splash out a little!

  22. September 25, 2018 / 9:19 pm

    What a fantastic place to visit. Great tour #CulturedKids

  23. September 28, 2018 / 1:20 pm

    So loved our tour of Turner’s House! Longing to go back and sit in the garden for a nice cuppa! #CULTUREDKIDS

  24. September 28, 2018 / 3:10 pm

    What a beautiful house and those staircase! We have never been in Twickenam, so this is on my list now

    • October 1, 2018 / 4:58 pm

      I confess that I had not knowingly gone to Twickenham before!

  25. September 30, 2018 / 3:00 pm

    Thanks for the tour of Turner’s House, love the telescope and the shadow. #farawayfiles

  26. October 1, 2018 / 10:02 pm

    I love how they “preserved” his view for visitors. It’s often hard to imagine what it would have been like before the city built up around… #farawayfiles

    • October 1, 2018 / 10:03 pm

      They did the rural feel very well, it was quite a shock to step back out into the suburbs!

      • October 1, 2018 / 10:35 pm

        I love stuff like that!

  27. October 2, 2018 / 12:35 pm

    Love that they tried to impart what it would have looked like out the windows when built. Hard to imagine in it’s modern context sometimes. And that staircase is a stunner. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles

  28. January 27, 2020 / 2:10 am

    Stunning, the staircase, but also all these arches coming together! Glad I ended up here via Debbie Smyth’s blog. Cultural Wednesday is a beautiful endeavor, or is it also a challenge others can link to?

    • January 27, 2020 / 8:25 am

      Thank you , all me and my endless curiosity

  29. makeupmuddle
    February 9, 2020 / 11:12 pm

    I had never heard of this place before, but it sounds lovely and like a great way to spend an afternoon xo

    • February 10, 2020 / 8:35 pm

      A fascinating place to visit

Share your thoughts

Substack sign up