Werhner Collection @ The Ranger's House, Greenwich

The Ranger's House is an English Heritage property on the edge of Greenwich Park, it doesn't seem to be particularly well known which is a pity, but it may be in part because it's only open a few days a week and you are restricted to taking a guided tour - which you are advised to book in advance. While this is a nice Georgian home, the real attraction here is the personal collection of the diamond magnate  Sir Julius Werhner which is now housed at Ranger House. 

The collection has moved through a variety of family homes including Luton Hoo and is now on a lifetime long loan to  English Heritage. Unfortunately, this means there is no historical association between the collection and the house, though they have restored one room to reflect the manner in which the Wernher's lived. 
This is a collection built on the colonial trade in diamonds and gold. Werhner was closely associated with both Beit and Rhodes, and in this regard is an interesting historical figure. The collection is very strong in a number of areas including Renaissance bronzes, silver,  devotional objects from the Middle Ages including relaquies and an amazing collection of Renaissance jewelry. 
There is some furniture, tapestries and and paintings as well as some beautiful Italian and Turkish ceramics, including two plates from the famous Isabelle d'Este wedding service. With only twenty two surviving plates it is   unusual to see two of these together, even the Louvre only has one!
I very much enjoyed some of the smaller decorative pieces including the extensive collection of personal religious objects including ivory reliquaries and altar pieces.
The Renaissance jewelry was also lovely, I would love to show you more photos but they do not allow photos on the tour so most of these pictures are taken from English Heritage.
If you are interested in these items or periods, the Wernher Collection is well worth seeing and I was very glad to have visited it. But as a personal collection I think it suffers by not being displayed in the home or site built  or originally conceived for it, like the Soane Museum or the Jaquemart Andre in Paris.  Perhaps this is just a romantic notion, but the connection between the space and the art  is central to so many small house museums.
While this collection has some amazing pieces and is very much worth seeing, something is lost in the presentation. Perhaps what makes the difference is that that Werhner, in contrast to many other Nineteenth Century collectors like Soane or Jaquemart-Andre, conceived of this as a purely personal endeavor, picking what he liked rather than establishing a rigorous collection which was designed to make its way into public hands. 
Indeed, despite Werhner's great wealth the dramatic history of the collection after his death includes items being stolen, sold or given  as gift in lieu of death duties and it ultimately included the loss of the family estate at Luton Hoo. Below is a picture of Werhner's wife Alice, painted by John Singer Sergant in 1902.
It was a very pleasant afternoon for me, I walked to the house from Greenwich and after the tour walked across Blackheath to the station - where it was easy to catch a train back into town. Overall it makes for a nice day out.
Tips: The Ranger House could make a good combination with the Fan Museum in Greenwich, just make sure you check the opening hours before you go, they are closed on Monday.
Once again one of the things I'm enjoying about the Art Fund card is that it's drawing my attention to places I might have missed. Places like Werner House get very little publicity and are only open limited hours but the Art Fund membership helped me find and enjoy this wonderful collection.