Orleans House, set in a woodland garden, was built in 1710 for James Johnson, William III’s Secretary of State for Scotland. At the turn of the 19th century Twickenham became fashionable as a refuge for royalists fleeing the French Revolution and the exiled Duke of Orléans, who was later King Louis Philippe, set up home in the house between 1800 – 1817.
When the main building was demolished in 1926 the only feature to survive was Octagon, an eight-sided turret that had formed part of the west wing. Designed by James Gibbs in 1720, this neo-classical room has plasterwork and a black and white checked floor, now used as a giant chessboard.
A gallery was later built on the site of the original house and today both this and the Octagon are used for changing exhibitions. These include local and London art, contemporary crafts and local history displays.