In 1944, a Second World War bomb fell just outside Leighton House, demolishing the original gates, a section of the boundary wall and leaving a gaping hole where the front steps into the house had been. The damage was repaired but the original stone steps were rebuilt to a different configuration. A wooden trellis that originally separated the front entrance from the servants’ entrance was lost and the two original gates, designed by the architect of the house, George Aitchison, were replaced by standard iron gates. The present iron gates and railings were installed in the early 1990s.
The construction works of our Hidden Gem to National Treasure project present the perfect opportunity to reinstate the gates and trellis and rebuild the damaged front steps to conform to the surviving photographs of the original arrangements. Doing so will complete the restoration of the street façade of the house and greatly enhance the environment of the museum, replacing the ‘institutional’ feel of the forecourt with the original domestic character that Leighton knew. The Friends of Leighton House have now raised £10,000 towards the costs of this project, but they still need your help to reach their £35,000 target. Your donation will go a long way to help restore Leighton’s magnificent building to its former glory in time for the Museum’s grand reopening in 2021.