Upward thrust at Beningbrough

State bed, probably made in the early eighteenth century for James, 3rd Viscount Scudamore, by Francis Lapierre and at Holme Lacy until brought to Beningbrough in about 1918 (inv. no. 1190812). ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Seeing these images of the baroque state beds at Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire, reminded me of the upward thrust of much baroque decoration.

The State Bedchamber at Beningbrough. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The beds with their elaborate canopies happily echo the vertically oriented panelling of the rooms crowned by intricately carved friezes. You are encouraged to look up, and be amazed.

Carving over one of the doors and in the frieze of the State Bedchamber. ©NTPL/Horst Kolo

The beds originally came from Holme Lacy in Herefordshire, latterly the seat of the Earls of Chesterfield. The 10th Earl of Chesterfield sold Holme Lacy in 1909 and bought Beningbrough in 1917.

State bed probably made by Francis Lapierre for Holme Lacy in the early eighteenth century. Given to the National Trust by the Art Fund in memory of Graham Baron Ash of Wingfield Castle, Suffolk, 1980 (inv. no. 1190874). ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The red state bed came to Beningbrough at around that time. The blue state bed was sold by the Chesterfields when they left Holme Lacy but rejoined its twin at Beningbrough in 1980.

The Blue Bedroom at Beningbrough. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Both beds were probably made by the émigré French upholsterer Francis Lapierre (active 1683 – d. 1714) and are in the style of Daniel Marot (1661-1752), the court architect and designer who popularised baroque decoration in Britain.

The Hall at Beningbrough. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

So here the story here is not just about art history, social history and family history, but also about the visual and spatial interaction between objects and spaces.

6 Responses to “Upward thrust at Beningbrough”

  1. robert Says:

    I know this is rather nonsensical but this posting, yet another marvelous post of yours Emile, rather recalls the passages from ‘Brideshead Revisited’ of the return of Lord Marchmain to Brideshead after an absence of several decades, and creating quite a fuss by having the state bed dismantled and brought downstairs to the Chinese Room. Such a marvelous visual. As always Emile, your posts are brilliant and so I thank you.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Not nonsensical at all: Waugh just picked up on the theatricality and grandeur of a state bed in his novel, as a fitting setting for the end of Lord Marchmain’s life, and the 1981 Granada TV series visualised that beautfully: the estate carpenters gingerly carrying the various bits of the bed down the grand staircase, the shrunken figure in the middle of all that ancient upholstery and fabric, the baroque theatricality of the bed echoing the Catholic faith which Lord Marchmain is somehow drawn back to.

    Very glad you liked the post :)

  3. style court Says:

    I love this post, too, Emile. Seeing the beds photographed from the less expected vantage point transports me back to school, sitting in a darkened art history class and gazing up at enormous slides of baroque sculpture (architecture as well) from a similar angle.

    And Robert, your BR association is spot on.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks very much Courtney. It is amazing how some of those early memories of seeing something for the first time stay with you, isn’t it?

  5. Columnist Says:

    I am really impressed with the Hall, (which I suppose was the point of it). Stunning. The bed(s) are very similar to the Adam bed at Dumfries House, (in Blue), but unless the photographs are deceptive, a slightly elongated version.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Columnist, I just had to look up the article on Dumfries House in the February 2012 issue of Architectural Digest :) As you say I think the blue bed in the Family Bedroom there is less tall than the ones at Beningbrough, and it also seems to be more Rococo in style, which makes sense given its c. 1760 date. But very interesting that the concept of the ‘state’ or ‘show-off’ bed was still going strong.

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