Architectural History

Designed in the English Palladian style by Roger Morris in collaboration with the Earl of Pembroke, White Lodge was commissioned as a hunting lodge by George I in 1727. Sir Robert Walpole took a personal interest in the completion and further development of the Lodge, in which he often stayed. The main villa was completed in 1730. In the mid-18th century, George II’s daughter added two exterior Pavilions, designed by Stephen Wright. Later, Lord Sidmouth, resident at White Lodge from 1801, added the Long Gallery and the crescent Wings which joined the main house to the Pavilions with impressive curved corridors. The Wings were designed by James Wyatt, who also added the East Portico as the new front entrance in 1816. By then, the orientation of the Lodge had changed completely, with the old West Font of the building now facing towards the back gardens designed by Humphry Repton. In 1954, lease of White Lodge was granted to The Royal Ballet School. 1957 saw the construction of first purpose-built dance studio and in 1970 a second studio was added. In 1990, the Margot Fonteyn Studio Theatre complex was opened. Between 2004–2009, an extensive plan of upgrading and refurbishment was undertaken at White Lodge.

Architectural Features

The Fine Rooms comprise five interlinked rooms: the Inner Hall, the Nelson Room, King’s Chamber or Study and Queen’s Room or Boudoir. The Inner Hall has an interior screen with pillars and arches typical of the English Palladian style. The impressive cantilevered stairway was added in the 1750s. The Nelson Room was so named in c.1806 in memory of Nelson’s final visit to the Lodge. The fireplace is composed of sections from different sources, made from plasterwork painted to look like wood and the central panel is thought to date to the 17th century. The ceiling plasterwork is original and typical of the English Palladian style. The false door creates aesthetic symmetry with the door leading to the Queen’s Room. The Salon was originally used as a banqueting hall, and later as a drawing room. The fireplace mantel was probably added in the 1760s. Other typical features of the English Palladian style found in the Salon are the double room height, the coved ceiling and the central Venetian window. The King’s Chamber leads directly off the Salon and features an interior screen with Corinthian columns and intricate plasterwork. The door to the room features a false bookcase. The Queen’s Room also leads off the Salon and was designed to be the private room of the Lady of the house. Below stairs areas of interest include: the brick-lined service tunnels which retain their original 18th-century flagstones; the original cast-iron kitchen ovens and interlinked rooms; and the former dairies and storage facilities of the 18th and 19th centuries. Embedded in the back stairs leading to the cellars is a 19th-century lift shaft. From the Salon balcony there are panoramic views of Richmond Park, including the Queen’s Ride and Pen Ponds. The grand stairs were added to the balcony in 1922. The summer house or rotunda is thought to date from 1869–1900 and the tennis court was installed for the Duke of York c.1923. The Victorian Stables retain the dismounting block and chocolate-square floor tiles which date to 1848.

Filming Attributes

White Lodge offers film crews great flexibility and a fantastic variety of spaces in which to work, from the Georgian rooms of the villa with their period features to the modern spaces of the dance studios and Margot Fonteyn Theatre. In addition, there are the brick service tunnels under the building and the extensive grounds. There are also various outbuildings such as the Victorian Stables. The school is accessed through Richmond Park and is reached by a tarmaced road. The school has permission to open and close the gates to the Park outside the official opening hours. There is ample parking outside the school and an access road leading round to the rear of the building. There is a good power supply throughout and mobile phone reception is generally good in most parts of the site. There is a canteen, which could be made available for film crews, and accommodation can be provided if necessary. Hot works and animals are permitted on site by prior arrangement. Privacy from the rest of the park is afforded by the sheltered grounds.

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Special Considerations

  • Accommodate Unit Base
  • Accommodation for Cast & Crew
  • Remote Area
  • Weekend Shoots

Topography

White Lodge can be accessed by rail from Richmond Station (overground and tube) or by car. London Heathrow is only half an hour away by car or taxi (12 miles) and other London airports (notably Gatwick and London City) are within easy reach.

Crew and Relevant Links

Contact

Email: nancy.sheridan@heritage4media.com

Phone: Heritage4Media: 07736 364722

Website: http://www.royalballetschool.org.uk/