On Saturday I finally got round to visiting the Wallace Collection, a unique free museum based in Hertford House, Manchester Square near Oxford Street. The collection was accumulated in the 18th and 19th centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the fourth Marquess’s son. Lady Wallace, Sir Richard’s widow, bequeathed the collection to the nation in 1897. Under the terms of the bequest the main collection cannot be added to, however museum staff do continue to seek out objects and archives relating to the family.
The house is situated in an impressive but quiet square, and opens into a lovely hallway. There is a posh-looking restaurant out the back (which I’d love to go to for Prosecco one day) and a gift shop, in addition to the 25 galleries. Eighteenth century French painting, works by the Old Masters and some rather famous works (including Frans Hals’ The Laughing Cavalier (1624)) sit alongside ancient furniture, small religious mementoes and an extensive armoury. I also saw the temporary exhibition, Collecting History: The Founders of the Wallace Collection.
I enjoyed looking around, although there was an overwhelming amount of art and I certainly couldn’t take it all in. I enjoyed the sumptuous interior of the house itself, however, and I would like to make a return journey or two to explore further.
Address: Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, W1U 3BN
Opening Hours: 10am-5pm