Aladdins cave full of priceless treasures.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by garymarsh6 on April 23, 2012

The Wallace collection can be found at:-
Hertford house,
Manchester Square,
W1U 3BN.
Telephone number :- 0207 563 9500.
Web Address:-
Hertford house is just off Oxford Street behind Selfridges in Manchester Square. The nearest tube station is Bond Street and there is a ten minute walk to reach it.

So what is the Wallace collection?

The Wallace collection is a massive art and fine antiques collection amassed from 1760 to 1880 initially the collection was started by Francis Seymour-Conway The 1st Marques of Hertford then subsequently the next 3 Marquises’ and finally the illegitimate son of the fourth Marques of Hertford Sir Richard Wallace ending with the death of Lady Wallace on whose death in 1897 she left the whole collection to the Nation.

She entrusted the collection to her Secretary Sir John Murray Scott who oversaw the opening of Hertford house as a museum becoming a Trustee of the collection. They also held substantial properties both in the UK but also in Paris (The Chateau de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne) and Castle House in Lisburn Ireland. The family seat being Ragley Hall in Warwickshire and Sudbourne Hall in Suffolk.

The collection of priceless art works had been obtained from all over Europe and the rest of the world. Including art works by Rembrandt, Ruben, Canaletto and Gainsborough and Hals for example. Most people would know the painting of the Laughing Cavalier which is part of the Wallace collection. There are other particularly beautiful figurines, crystal, China and porcelain, ceramics furniture and Sculptures. Part of the bequest to the Nation was that the collection the largest of its kind of fine art was not to be added to and should only be exhibited as the original collection.

Manchester House.

Manchester house was built between 1776 and 1788 for the fourth Duke of Manchester. It was let out to the Spanish as their Embassy in London and then to the French as their Embassy in London. The fourth Marquess of Hertford lived most of the time in Paris using Manchester house as a storage facility for his art collection however during the French Revolution he moved back to London bringing his most precious collection with him from Paris. He then turned the first floor into galleries where his precious collections could be displayed. Some of the other properties the Marquess owned were sold off along with the remaining art collections in Paris and Ireland on the death of Sir John Murray Scott and these pieces can be found in museums throughout Europe and the United States and referred to as the lost collection.

The house has been open continuously since 1900 with the exception during World War I & II.

Opening times.

The Wallace collection is open throughout the year between 10:00 and 17:00 daily with the exception of 24th – 26th of December when it is closed. Throughout the year there are exhibitions, lectures and fun days. It is used as an educational facility for school children and art students. There is a lecture theatre where lectures take place throughout the week with specialist speakers and curators of the museum. There is always on going preservation and restoration work going on to maintain the works of art in tip top condition. Students can get a secondment or internship to work with the collection. There are art trails, audio tours and private tours are available. Maps of the museum are available from the foyer. There are some interactive displays for children throughout the museum.

The museum is excellent for people with disabilities including wheelchair access and disabled toilet facilities. All areas of the museum and exhibition galleries are wheelchair accessible and two allocated pre bookable parking spaces for blue badge holders. Those with hearing or sight impairment are also well catered for.

Other facilities include:

The Wallace Restaurant.

The Wallace Restaurant open from 10:00AM for Breakfast right up to late evening for dinner latest booking at 21:30PM. The restaurant is under glass cover in the central courtyard and is mainly a high class restaurant serving a mixture of French and English cuisine. The Set Menu 2 courses £22 or 3 Course £26. An A LA Carte menu is available with Starters from £7, Mains from £14.50 and desserts at £6.50.

The restaurant is very smart indeed with white linen table cloths over pink table cloths and the tables are set up immaculately. The glass roof lets in plenty of daylight and throughout the restaurant are some trees which make it feel as if you are eating outside.

It is quite a formal restaurant and during the afternoon you can take a Cornish Cream Tea (£12.50), Traditional English afternoon tea (£17.50) or a French based afternoon tea with French Fancies (£24). It might be a tad on the expensive side.

It is possible to hire the restaurant completely for wedding receptions or other receptions or corporate events.
Unfortunately on this visit we could only manage morning coffee as we had made plans to visit another venue for afternoon tea. However we all felt that we would like to try the menu at some time in the future. It is a delightful setting.

The Wallace collection shop.

The inevitable shop can be found on the ground floor. It stocks a good range of pocket money goods up to and including quite expensive china ware. You can also order these things on line. The shop does hold a reasonable selection of gifts and edible gifts for members of the public to purchase.

Admission is free but you are able to make a donation if you so wish in order for them to continue to provide a valuable service on behalf of the Nation.

From the outside Hertford house does not look that impressive. It is situated at the head of Manchester square. However step inside and its like Aladdins cave crammed full of precious art works by the great masters and Objects D’Art some of which were bought during the French revolution when the gentry were losing their heads. There are 16 galleries in total housing precious paintings and ornaments. There are hundreds of clocks around the building. Each room is decorated beautifully. Some of the pieces date from the 1500’s. There is a massive collection of armoury including suits of armour and two full horse sets of armour. I am so surprised that so many people are unaware of this collection. It really is full of beautiful items and houses such paintings as the Laughing cavalier which most people would probably recognise. It really does have a wow factor and is breath taking. The long gallery upstairs houses many fine pieces of art work. There are very precious little trinkets kept under cover in display cabinets and if you lift the leather coverings which stop them being damaged by the light you are able to view them. I do not want to say too much because it will spoil things for you but it really is a national treasure which is mind boggling to visit. Due to not many people knowing about it when we visited on a Saturday we almost had the place to ourselves. It was not crowded and there was no point at which we had to queue to see anything.

Would I recommend a visit here?
I most certainly would as it is a massive museum full to the brim with beautiful artefacts and art work. It really is a worthwhile place to visit and I thoroughly recommend it. So the next time you are in London and God forbid you are wondering how to kill a couple of hours this place is definitely a must on your London things to do list.
We visited the museum on a Saturday at 10:00 and thought it would be crowded but luckily for us it was not, so we were not pressured to move on by the flowing crowds and we were able to really scrutinise interesting pieces of art work and take our time. That being said however be prepared for a lot of walking and standing so flat sensible shoes are the order of the day. In total we managed to stay for four hours and could probably have stayed a little longer there was lots of things to see and admire.
Wallace Collection
Hertford House
London, England, W1M 6BN
+44 20 7563 9500

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