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Tuesday 4th February – 5th meeting of 2014

We met up at Charing Cross and although the impeding underground strike was not due to start until 9pm we still decided to go for Plan B, The Wallace Collection. We made our way via the tube to Bond Street and walked up to Oxford Street towards Selfridges where we stopped for coffee and chat. We then walked around the back of the store to Manchester Square and up to Hertford House which houses The Wallace Collection.

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Hertford House was bought in 1797 by the 2nd Marquis of Hertford who was then the British Ambassador to Berlin and Vienna.  The house had been called Manchester House after the 4th Duke of Manchester who had had it built 20 years earlier to take advantage of the good duck hunting around the area!

It became the Wallace family home for several generations and the collections were assembled by the first four Marquises of Hertford and the illegitimate son of the last Marquis, Sir Richard Wallace 1818-1890.  The collection was bequeathed to the nation by Sir Richard Wallaces’ widow and opened to the public in 1900.  It is a magnificent collection of items ranging from English and European Painting to oriental and continental armour, Sevres porcelain and Limoges enamels, furniture, sculpture and object d’arte. Also the decorations, wallpapers and drapes are colour co-ordinated in several of the large rooms and are beautiful and give a lift to a lot of the furniture and paintings there.

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In 2000 a £12 million refurbishment programme took place and as the house is surrounded by four streets the expansion that was needed took place in excavating a large basement to provide lecture rooms, exhibition space and by also glazing the central courtyard it was possible to create a new sculpture garden and cafe.    The new facilities were opened by the Prince of Wales in June 200 to mark the centenary of the collections bequest to the nation on the condition it was always kept in Central London.

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It is a lovely house and the range of exhibits makes it an easy choice for repeat visits as there is so much there to see.

We made our way back to Charing Cross and trains home after a fabulous morning in opulent surroundings!