In 1901 Merton Russell-Cotes gave his wife Annie an extraordinary gift for her 66th birthday – a dream house on a cliff-top, overlooking the sea.
The Russell-Cotes house, East Cliff Hall in Bournemouth was finally finished the year Queen Victoria died making it one of the last Victorian buildings to be built in England.
Why is it important?
Sir Merton and Lady Annie travelled the world visiting many countries and used the house as a showcase for their collections. In 1907 they gave their home and their collections to the people of Bournemouth (continuing to live in the house until their deaths in 1920 and 1921). With over 1000 objects and works of art on display, it’s a celebration of the couple’s passion for art and travel, world cultures and natural history.
I’m local and have visited in the past on school trips (if you’ve ever been on a school trip you’ll know how manic they are) and it’s always been on my bucket list to go back to take the time to just ‘be.’ The May Day Bank Holiday weekend was perfect for spending time soaking up the art and history.
When you think of Bournemouth I imagine museums would be the last thing that come to mind! The architecture, paintings and art make this a venue not to be missed. If you’re in the area, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum is definitely a place I recommend you visit.
Enjoy my short photo tour:
The recreation of Annie’s wedding dress was based on a photograph from their wedding day in 1860. Research (looking at garments in museums, early photographs and fashion plates) brought this 2d garment to life.
There are more rooms to explore!
The Green Room http://russellcotes.com/the-green-room/
The Mikado’s Room http://russellcotes.com/the-mikados-room/
The Red Room http://russellcotes.com/the-red-room/
The Yellow Room http://russellcotes.com/the-yellow-room/
The Boudoir http://russellcotes.com/the-boudoir/
The Irving Room http://russellcotes.com/the-irving-room/
One of my favourite curiosities is this thumb piano:
We didn’t spend much time in the gardens (the weather was dire) but I couldn’t resist snapping these two pigeons on the way in …
As well as the art gallery, museum and historic house there’s also a licensed café and a shop. All profits from the Café go directly to the charity.
I love the blending of the modern. We chose a little ‘nook’
and looking up!
The space is light and airy and a gallery in itself:
As you can imagine, the Russell-Cotes House, Art Gallery and Museum takes a lot to care for the collections and the upkeep. The Friends of the Russell-Cotes Scheme aims to build on the relationships they have with their loyal visitors, allowing Friends to engage more with the house and its collections, and to act as advocates for the museum and the charity.
What’s in it for you? Friends receive unlimited admission for twelve months, a bi-monthly email newsletter which contains information on art and artefacts, conservation news, Russell-Cotes facts and history and information about new acquisitions, as well as upcoming events. You’ll also be invited to a free, exclusive Friends event and will be notified of priority booking for talks and events.
Friend £25 (one adult member)
Joint Friend £40 (two adults at the same address)
Family Friend £45 (two adults plus children at the same address)
To become a Friend, or to purchase as a gift, please visit the Welcome Desk or ring 01202 451820. Alternatively you can pay online here.
Russell-Cotes House, Art Gallery and Museum was awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence (2016) which celebrates excellence in hospitality and is given only to establishments that consistently achieve great reviews on TripAdvisor.
Visiting Russell-Cotes House, Art Gallery and Museum
£6 per adult or senior citizen
£4 per child
Suggested additional donation £5
OPEN: 10am to 5pm, Tuesday-Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays.
CLOSED: Mondays, Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum
East Cliff Promenade
How to get there:
Sat nav: BH1 3AA
From London: Take the M25, M3, M27 and A31 to Ringwood. From Ringwood follow the A338 (Wessex Way) to Bournemouth.
From the North & West: Head to the A31/A338 Ashley Heath junction just outside Ringwood and take the A338 (Wessex Way) to Bournemouth.
From the A338 (Wessex Way): Turn onto the A35 (St Paul’s Road). At the roundabout take the third exit (B3066) along Holdenhurst Road. Keep following the signs for the B3066, which will lead on to Bath Road.
The closest car park is Bath Road South. There is also parking available on the cliff top and alternative car parks nearby.
There are bicycle-racks on the East Cliff Promenade next to the Russell-Cotes entrance. Bicycles are not allowed in to the house’s historic garden.
There are no facilities onsite for coach parking but coaches can stop on Westover Road outside the Pavilion Theatre to drop off passengers close to the house. There are two coach parks in Bournemouth.
The house is situated on the main bus routes with services provided by Yellow Buses and Wilts & Dorset Buses, which run from the Travel Interchange every three to four minutes. The journey takes about five minutes.
The bus stop for Yellow Buses: 1a, 2, 3, 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 5a, 5b, and 6 is just after the Royal Bath Hotel on Bath Road. The bus stop for Wilts & Dorset Buses: M1 and 13 is on Westover Road, opposite the Odeon cinema.
The Russell-Cotes is 1.2 miles from Bournemouth Railway Station (approximately 20 minutes walk). Yellow bus 2 runs from the station to Bath Road. For train timetable information visit www.southwesttrains.co.uk or www.nationalrail.co.uk.