|Dorich House Museum||Kingston|
Dorich House was built for Estonian sculptor Dora Gordine and her husband Richard Hare, a diplomat and authority on Russian culture. The plot of land adjacent to Richmond Park was formerly owned by the Duke of Cambridge, the site of 2 orchards. Their garden had lawns, rose beds, shrubbery and trees, some of which remain from the Hares' time, including a mulberry and fruit trees that predate their occupancy. Dora outlived her husband and remained here until her death in 1991. Her executors gifted the house and its contents to Kingston University and the house was subsequently renovated and the grounds remodelled. The house became Dorich House Museum in 2004 and is an important part of Kingston University's research facilities.
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Dorich House - Photo: Sivi Sivanesan
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Dorich House is a detached 3-storey brick house overlooking Richmond Park with roof garden, large lunette windows and studio on the north side. It was built for the Estonian sculptor Dora Gordine (1895-1991) and her husband the Hon. Richard Hare, a diplomat and authority on Russian art and culture, and still contains important collections of Gordine's works and Russian art. The plot of land purchased by the Hares for their new house was once owned by the Duke of Cambridge and had been the site of 2 orchards. The house was designed by Dora Gordine herself in Art Deco style, described by Nikolaus Pevsner as 'an idiosyncratic creation slightly reminiscent of some German Expressionist buildings'. Their garden was simply laid out with lawns, rose beds along the boundary wall with Richmond Park, a shrubbery and tennis court. Kingston Hill was screened by mature oaks and horse chestnuts. They kept a number of the fruit trees in the former orchard, and some of these remain in the garden, now around 100 years old. Other trees remaining from the Hares' time include a mulberry, hornbeams, orchard trees, magnolia and conifers. Rings of daffodils were planted around the apple trees in the orchard where the Hares took tea and, a keen gardener, Dora made jams and chutneys with produce from the garden. She is also said to have encouraged the sitters for her sculptures by enticing them to enjoy the garden.
Richard Hare died in 1966 and Dora lived on in Dorich House until her death in 1991. She had been keen to preserve the house and its contents and the executors of her will were persuaded by friends of hers to gift the house and contents to Kingston University and this was effected in 1993. The University saved the house and its collections and in 1994 an appeal was launched to renovate the house, which had fallen into disrepair. Completed in 1996, these works were carried out by David Brown and Partners Architects and included remodelling of the grounds, making features of the mulberry tree, hornbeams and orchards but providing new gates, a resurfaced drive and a car park on the site of the tennis court. A number of trees along the boundary with Kingston Hill had blown down in the gales of 1987, including a large oak near the drive, and others were taken out as the drive was widened, but in 1996 new chestnut trees were planted. In 2011 6 new apple and pear trees were planted in the orchard by Kingston University's Biodiversity Action Group, working with the London Orchard Project, which promotes fruit trees and orchards in London. Varieties selected were those found in Surrey in the late C19th and early C20th.
Dorich House is one of the University's important resources in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, and is also open to visitors and is hired for conferences. In 2004 it became Dorich House Museum and was awarded full accreditation status in 2009 under the MLA Museum Accreditation Scheme. Among the research initiatives was the first major retrospective of Dora Gordine's work, which took place in 2009.
B Cherry and N Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 2: South, 1983; 'Dorich House Guidebook', Kingston University Press 1998