Easter gifts

The south front of Lyme Park, designed by Giacomo Leoni and built between 1729 and 1732. ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

A group of objects with a provenance from Lyme Park, Cheshire, has just been accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax from Nicholas Legh and the Hon Mrs Simon Weinstock (formerly Laura Legh) and allocated to the National Trust for display at Lyme. 

The Drawing Room at Lyme, showing some of the furniture accepted in lieu of tax. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

This munificent transfer comes right on time to add to the bounties of Easter. As it happens, this year the invaluable Acceptance in Lieu Scheme has been in existence for 100 years.

One of the chairs with needlework covers imitating cut velvet. Image: National Trust

The allocation includes a set of mid-eighteenth-century mahogany chairs with their original needlework covers. The needlework is deliberately raised above the linen ground in imitation of cut velvet. Needlework was highly valued at this time, and was generally used on the best chairs in the most important rooms. However, savings were made by covering the backs with watered wool.

The Drawing Room, showing the chairs in situ. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The chairs were originally acquired by Peter Legh XIII, who inherited Lyme in 1744. He also introduced the carved giltwood chandeliers and the Rococo girandoles to the Drawing Room. The early seventeenth-century panelling was transferred by him from another Legh property, Bradley in Lancashire – an early example of historicist decoration.

6 Responses to “Easter gifts”

  1. littleaugury Says:

    the needlework is extraordinary. pgt

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Isn’t it? Prof Maurice Howard of the University of Sussex has told me that in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries ‘faking’ something in a different material (recreating the effect of cut velvet in embroidery, in this case) was not considered second-rate, but was instead seen as proof of the ingenuity and skill of the craftsman.

  3. style court Says:

    I was thrilled to read that the needlework is original. The chairs still feel absolutely chic, and, in a way, fresh.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes chairs like these would have had case covers to protect them during everyday use, or when the family was away, and that may explain the relatively good condition of the upholstery. According to the late John Cornforth the case covers were usually in the same colour as the upholstery, or in a matching check.

  5. Maggie McKean Says:

    I visited Lyme Park just before Easter, and sadly missed seeing these chairs. However I was thrilled to see the refurbishment of the Library and its ‘Ewe-Lamb’ – the Sarum Missal. How marvellous it was to be able to sit in the window bay and on the newly upholstered sofa, all designed for visitor usage, and to be able to enjoy the atmosphere of this room. The digitised version of the Missal was a particularly impressive step forward into new technology. I can’t wait to see the wallpaper and the carpet which have yet to be installed as finishing touches to the ensemble. It will surely be a total triumph for Lyme and another curatorial success story.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes Maggie I must soon do a post on the Lyme Missal as well. It is a great example of interpreting a very old object through the latest technology.

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