The earlier House of Princess Amelia from an 18th century hand-colored engraving
Earlier Houses: The 18th century villa of Princess Amelia was replaced by the current 19th century house, which is the primary focus of this record.
Built / Designed For: Alexander Copland
House & Family History: Gunnersbury was the home of Princess Amelia, the second daughter of George III. Princess Amelia's house was replaced by two villas in the 19th century when the property was divided into three parts; Nathan Rothschild purchased the largest section in 1835, which he remodeled and enlarged into the house seen today. Gunnersbury was purchased for the nation from the Rothschild family in 1925 and opened to the public by Neville Chamberlain, then minister of health, on May 21, 1926.
Collections: By 1728 Sir Robert Furnese, 2nd Bt. (died 1733), owned Andrea Sacchi's "Apollo Crowning the Musician Marcantonio Pasqualini," which was once owned by Pope Clement IX. The painting remained at Sir Robert's seat, Waldershare Park, until it passed to his cousin, Henry Furnese (Lord of the Treasury, died 1756), at Gunnersbury. After Henry's death in 1756 the painting was purchased by the 1st Earl Spencer (1734-83), who hung it in the Great Room at Spencer House (the painting was sold by the New York City dealers Wildenstein & Co. in 1981 for £270,000 to the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Lord Spencer used Guido Reni's "Liberality and Modesty" (which had a frame designed by James "Athenian" Stuart) as a pendant painting for the Sacchi. The Reni was also purchased by the 1st Lord Spencer from Henry Furnese's estate and remained in the Spencer collection until 1979, when it was sold by the 8th Earl Spencer to Wildenstein & Co., from whom it was purchased by the American collector Peter Sharp; after Sharp's death Sotheby's sold the Reni in New York on January 13, 1994 for $618,500.
Garden & Outbuildings: Princess Amelia started a famous garden here that, at one time, rivaled Kew. Gunnersbury's garden was noted for its classical follies, most of which have been destroyed, though the Doric Temple, probably designed by William Chambers, is extant. Also still standing is the Bath House, a unique combination of a plunge bath and a shell grotto, which had been ruinous for 50 years. It was restored to its original Regency design in 2003 by Giles Quarme & Associates through funding from the Heritage Lottery Commission.
Vitruvius Britannicus: C. I, pls. 17, 18, 1715.
John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: 2.S. Vol. II, p. 86, 1855.
Country Life: CLXXII, 1480, 1982.
Title: Sotheby's Auction Catalog: The Estate of Peter Jay Sharp, Jan 13, 1994
Year Published: 1994
Reference: Item 73
Publisher: New York: Sotheby's, Inc.
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Follies, Grottoes and Garden Buildings
Author: Headley, Gwyn; Meulenkamp, Wim
Year Published: 1999
Publisher: London: Aurum Press Ltd.
Book Type: Softback
Title: Art and Architecture of London: An Illustrated Guide, The
Author: Saunders, Ann
Year Published: 1984
Publisher: Oxford: Phaidon Press Limited
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade II*
Park Listed: Grade II
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSES: Henry Furnese, 18th century. Princess Amelia, late 18th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Alexander Copland, early 19th century. Nathan Mayer Rothschild, 1835-36; Rothschild family here until 1925.
Current Ownership Type: Government
Primary Current Ownership Use: Museum
Ownership Details: Owned by Hounslow and Ealing Councils and used as a social history museum.