House of Francisco de Miranda in London – opening Museum

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(London 16/04/2014) After an extensive project to restoration, Miranda House, home to Venezuelan hero Francisco de Miranda between 1803 and 1810 will reopen as a state of the art museum.

The Georgian period house, acquired by the Embassy of Venezuela in 1978, was refurbished and remodelled by architect Boyd Auger with advice from the Victoria and Albert Museum during the early 1980s. However, as the house fell into a state of disrepair, it remained closed for some time, until Studio Downie Architects LLP, under the determined leadership of Ambassador Samuel Moncada, began a strategy for the conservation, upgrade and refurbishment of the building. After consultation with the London Borough of Camden, English Heritage and the Georgian Group, works began in June 2013 and the house will shortly be re-opened to the public, sensitively upgraded to reflect both its importance in Latin American history and its architectural significance as a rare surviving London Georgian town house.

Francisco de Miranda, known in Venezuela as ‘El Precursor’, was a soldier, writer, traveller and hero of the South American struggle for independence from Spain. He led a remarkable life which saw him fight in the Battle of Pensacola during the American War of Independence, as well as in the French Revolution (for which his name appears on the Arc de Triomphe). He toured Europe extensively and met many great figures of the time during his travels, such as Catherine the Great of Russia, Frederick II of Prussia, Stanislaw II Poniatowski, Potemkin, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Napoleon Bonaparte, the Duke of Wellington and the Marquis de Lafayette.

These experiences no doubt helped to shape and strengthen his conviction that his home country of Venezuela, and indeed the whole of Latin America, should be freed from Spanish colonial rule. It was in this very house in London that Miranda designed the Venezuelan flag and also met with key figures in the Independence struggle. In 1810, he welcomed three important historical figures to the house: Simón Bolívar, Andrés Bello and Luis López Méndez; who formed the first Latin American diplomatic mission ever to be officially received by a European authority. Bolívar, the Liberator of Venezuela and much of South America, convinced Miranda to return to Venezuela to join him in the Independence struggle. Whilst Miranda did not live to see his dream fully realised, his legacy and contribution to the unity of Latin America cannot be underestimated.

Miranda lived at the house with his English wife, Sarah Andrews, and their two sons, Leander, born in 1803 and Francisco, born in 1806. After his death, Sarah Andrews continued to live in the house until 1847, where she continued to offer refuge to Latin American independence fighters, staying true to Miranda’s desire that, “My home in this city is and will always be the fixed point for the freedom and independence of the Colombian continent.”

Miranda House, located at 58 Grafton Way, will be open to the public from the end of April from Tuesday to Saturday 11.00am–5.00pm (except bank holidays) and is fully accessible.

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