DiCamillo Companion
England

Leighton House

  • Built / Designed For: Frederic Leighton

    House & Family History: The mid-19th century red brick Leighton House is noted for its Arab Hall, a tour-de-force of design created 1877-79 for Frederic, Lord Leighton, to the designs of George Aitchison the Younger, a friend of Leighton's. Famous for its wooden balcony, gilt mosaic frieze, late 19th century William de Morgan tile panels, and marble pool, the Arab Hall was created primarily to display Lord Leighton's collection of thousands of 14th and 15th century Islamic tiles from Damascus. Lord Leighton was a very popular late 19th century painter and president of the Royal Academy. He was knighted at Windsor in 1878 and was created a baronet eight years later. In the New Year Honours List of 1896 Lord Leighton was the first painter to be given a peerage. The patent creating him Baron Leighton of Stretton in the County of Shropshire was issued on January 24, 1896; Leighton died the next day -- his barony snuffed out after existing for only a single day, an all-time record in the British Peerage. His most popular legacy may have been his choice of a poor South London girl by the name of Dorothy Dene as his favorite model. Leighton later backed Dorothy in her career as an actress, which is believed to have inspired George Bernard Shaw to base his character of Eliza Doolittle in "Pygmalion" on Dorothy, with Leighton himself as the model of Professor Higgins (Lord Leighton never married and moved in gay artistic circles).

  • Architect: George Aitchison the Younger

    Date: 1877-79
    Designed: Arab Hall for Frederic, Lord Leighton.

    View all houses
  • Title: Landmarks of Britain: The Five Hundred Places that Made Our History
    Author: Aslet, Clive
    Year Published: 2005
    Reference: pg. 155
    Publisher: London: Hodder & Stoughton
    ISBN: 0340735104
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: V&A Guide to Period Styles: 400 Years of British Art and Design, The
    Author: Jackson, Anna; Hinton, Morna
    Year Published: 2002
    Reference: pg. 140
    Publisher: London: V&A Publications
    ISBN: 0810965909
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade II*

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • "Keep the Aspidistra Flying" [aka "A Merry War"] (1997).
  • Past Seat of: Frederic, Lord Leighton, 19th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Government

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Museum

    Ownership Details: Owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and used as a gallery and museum.

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 02076-023-316

    Fax: 02073-712-467

    Email: museums@rbkc.gov.uk

    Website: https://www.rbkc.gov.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No