Archive for the ‘Cambridgeshire’ Category

A Gilded Age cottage in Cambridgeshire

August 13, 2013
Regency-period wheelbarrow in the Library Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Regency-period wheelbarrow in the Library Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

I have just seen a copy of the newly published Treasures from Lord Fairhaven’s Library at Anglesey Abbey, written by Mark Purcell, William Hale and David Pearson. The authors describe the extraordinary collection of books assembled at Anglesey Abbey by Huttleston Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966) between the 1920s and the 1960s.

The south front of Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Robert Morris

The south front of Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Robert Morris

Lord Fairhaven was the eldest son of Urban Hanlon Broughton (1857-1929), an Anglo-American sanitation and mining entrepreneur, and Cara Rogers (1867-1939) the daughter of Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840-1909), an American oil, gas, copper and railway tycoon. Rogers was an exponent of the rise of the monopolistic businessman in late nineteenth-century America, which saw him and other ruthless titans like John D. Rockefeller, Henry Clay Frick, Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan amass stupendous fortunes.

The Library at Anglesey Abbey, with its infinity mirrors and William Kent-designed silver chandeliers. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Library at Anglesey Abbey, with its infinity mirrors and William Kent-designed silver chandeliers. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Although this book is strictly speaking about Fairhaven’s library, it also clearly shows how his tastes more generally were shaped by his American plutocratic background. The appearance of Anglesey Abbey and its gardens reflects the ideas of Gilded Age arbiters of taste such as Edith Wharton (1862-1937). Anglesey Abbey is, in effect, a Gilded Age ‘cottage’ preserved in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

Regency rococo revival mantle clock by James McCabe in the Library. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Regency rococo revival mantle clock by James McCabe in the Library. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Fairhaven loved British art and architecture, and he had the ancient Anglesey Abbey – latterly used as a farmhouse – carefully restored and – in phases – extended. But the interiors were done up lavishly, complete with fitted carpets and central heating, relatively rare at the time. And he gradually filled the house with a very fine, if also very personal, collection of paintings, bronzes, tapestries, furniture, clocks and books.

The library desk, said to have come from Houghton Hall and possibly used by Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The library desk, said to have come from Houghton Hall and possibly used by Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The Library, as described in this book, ‘is a slightly modernised 1930s take on the historicist style in vogue in Britain and America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – with just a hint of Gotham City and the Bat Cave.’ This book once again triumphantly proves the point (previously made by Mark Purcell here and here, for instance) that books are not just information carriers but also biographical, social and cultural signifiers.

Lord Fairhaven’s wardrobe

March 7, 2013
A pair of the 1st Lord Fairhaven's co-respondent shoes. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

A pair of the 1st Lord Fairhaven’s co-respondent shoes. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Anglesey Abbey, its garden and its sumptuous collections are largely the creation of Huttleston Broughton, 1st Baron Fairhaven (1896-1966). The co-heir to several American-made fortunes, he made Anglesey Abbey into a microcosm of luxury, craftsmanship and art.

Lord Fairhaven and his mother, Cara Rogers, on board her yacht Sapphire. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Lord Fairhaven and his mother, Cara Rogers, on board her yacht Sapphire. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Lord Fairhaven left Anglesey Abbey to the National Trust, and in his will he expressed the wish that the house and the garden ‘should be preserved and kept representative of an age and a way of life that is quickly passing.’ Part of Lord Fairhaven’s extensive wardrobe has been preserved in the house and it, too, is redolent of mid-20th-century upper-class life.

Part of Lord Fairhaven's wardrobe. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Part of Lord Fairhaven’s wardrobe. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Lord Fairhaven owned about 50 suits. He regularly wore a carnation in his buttonhole – coloured during the day and white during the evening.

Lord Fairhaven's umbrellas and walking sticks in the Long Gallery at Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Lord Fairhaven’s umbrellas and walking sticks in the Long Gallery at Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Although – or perhaps because – he lived alone, Lord Fairhaven liked to invite friends over for dinner, for which formal dress would be worn. The after-dinner conversation would stop promptly at 9, when the butler brought in a radio on a silver tray so that the assembled company could listen to the BBC news.

Of books and their owners

February 5, 2013
18th-century pamphlets in the Library at Dunham Massey, Cheshire. ©National Trust Images

18th-century pamphlets in the Library at Dunham Massey, Cheshire. ©National Trust Images

The colleagues at Dunham Massey have just created an online classroom called the À Ma Puissance Channel. It will feature interviews and lectures given by various experts and produced by Unity House Films, originally for the benefit of Dunham’s volunteers but now universally accessible.

First up is Mark Purcell, our libraries curator, with a brisk gallop through the different types of libraries the National Trust looks after, and the insights they provide about social and intellectual history.

Lady Mary Booth, Countess Stamford (1704-1772), who bought and read some of the books now in the Library at Dunham. ©National Trust Images/Fraser Marr

Lady Mary Booth, Countess Stamford (1704-1772), who bought and read some of the books now in the Library at Dunham. ©National Trust Images/Fraser Marr

As Mark says, the libraries in the historic houses of the National Trust contain relatively large numbers of books which would have been ordinary or even ephemeral at the time of their publication, and which for that very reason have not survived in large numbers. The collection of pamphlets at Dunham Massey is one example of such a group of rare ‘ordinary’ publications.

The Library at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The Library at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The library of the 1st Lord Fairhaven, a 20th-century millionaire bibliophile, at Anglesey Abbey is at the other end of the scale in being full of beatifully produced books. But even there the perceived value of certain books was subject to change: the first edition of Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice, originally bought purely for amusement, is now a valuable rarity.

Early 20th-century editions of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with bindings by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, in the Library at Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Early 20th-century editions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with bindings by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, in the Library at Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Mark gives many more fascinating examples, illustrating that subtle but immensely valuable feature of historic houses: the eloquence of objects in their original settings. I am looking forward to many more such talks.

Mixing and matching

December 14, 2012
A Chinese empress with attendants, by Robert Jones, c 1817, at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. ©Brighton & Hove Museums and Art Galleries, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

A Chinese empress with attendants, by Robert Jones, c 1817, at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. ©Brighton & Hove Museums and Art Galleries, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

It seemed madly ambitious: to make all of the UK’s publicly owned oil paintings available online via one website. But now the Public Catalogue Foundation and the BBC have completed their epic project, and as of yesterday 211,861 paintings are accessible via the Your Paintings site.

Chinese landscape with pagoda and boats, by William Alexander, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Collections, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Chinese landscape with pagoda and boats, by William Alexander, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Collections, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The National Trust is the largest single collection on the site, with 12,567 paintings. But the National Trust hasn’t just contributed to this project, we have also greatly benefited by having had all of our paintings photographed in colour for the first time.

The Your Paintings site provides unprecedented opportunities for locating works by particular artists and discovering links between collections on a national scale.

A Chinese emperor with attendants, by Robert Jones, c 1817, at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. ©Brighton & Hove Museums and Art Galleries, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

A Chinese emperor with attendants, by Robert Jones, c 1817, at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. ©Brighton & Hove Museums and Art Galleries, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

I just spotted these wonderful images of hyper-elegant Chinese figures by Robert Jones. They were made to decorate the Banqueting Room at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and they seem to depict the Prince Regent’s daydreams about the Chinese imperial court as a place of unquestioned power, vast wealth and refined luxury.

Chinese landscape with pagoda and boats, by William Alexander, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Collections, supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The work of William Alexander was among the sources for Jones’s fantasy vision. Alexander accompanied Earl Macartney on a diplomatic mission to Beijing from 1792 to 1794. On his return he provided the illustrations for a number of books about China, including Sir George Staunton’s official account of the Macartney embassy (1797) and his own book The Costume of China (1805).

Although his work is generally realistic, it has a picturesque sense of composition and detail – as in the pictures shown here, also accessible through Your Paintings – that appealed to other artists and consumers of chinoiserie.

Wimpole in the round

November 7, 2012

The Breakfast Room at Wimpole Hall, the table set with tea for one to suggest the period during the 20th century when the house was owned by Elsie Bambridge. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Our libraries curator Mark Purcell recently alerted me to a virtual tour of  Wimpole Hall. The site allows you to explore  360-degree images of the main rooms.

An angling party, by Edward Smith, mid 18th century, acquired by Elsie Bambridge for Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

The experience is not quite as vivid as actually visiting Wimpole, of course – there is no need to mothball our historic houses just yet – but it does provide a good impression of the layout of the house and the proportions of the rooms and the objects in them.

Portrait by Alan Ramsay of Jemima, Marchioness Grey, in the Long Gallery at Wimpole. The sitter lived at Wimpole in the late 18th century. ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

Having only seen the portraits of the 2nd Earl of Hardwicke and his wife Jemima, Marchioness Grey, in reproduction, I was pleasantly surprised by the image of the Long Gallery which shows the pictures in their splendid gilded Kentian frames.

Portrait of the 1st Earl of Hardwicke by Thomas Hudson, in the Long Gallery at Wimpole. © National Trust Collections

And by panning round to the opposite side of the Gallery you can see the portrait of the 1st Earl, with his sumptuous Lord Chancellor’s ‘handbag’, which I featured here earlier. I was also surprised to see how small the charming 18th-century picture of a collector, in Mrs Bambridge’s Study, actually is.

A collector in his study, Wenzel Wehrlin, mid 18th century, acquired by Elsie Bambridge for Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

The virtual tour as a whole also gives a flavour of life in an English country house in the twentieth century, when it was bought, furnished and lived in by Elsie Bambridge, the only surviving child of Rudyard Kipling. Her taste interacts with the layers left by earlier owners, resulting in one of those interesting country house palimpsests.

One portrait, two stories

April 5, 2012

Portrait of Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, as Lord Chancellor, by Thomas Hudson, at Hammond-Harwood House. ©Hammond-Harwood House

The recent post about Lord Chancellor Hardwicke’s purse at Wimpole Hall prompted a comment from Allison Titman, curator of Hammond-Harwood House, a historic mansion in Annapolis, Maryland, saying that they, too, have a portrait of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke.

Hammond-Harwood House, Annapolis, Maryland. ©Hammond-Harwood House

It turns out that the Hammond-Harwood portrait, by Thomas Hudson (1701-1779), is more or less identical to a Hudson portrait of the same sitter at Wimpole.

Portrait of Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, as Lord Chancellor, by Thomas Hudson, at Wimpole Hall, inv. no. 207887. Acquired with the help of the Art Fund, 1989. ©National Trust Collections

The Wimpole version was introduced to the house relatively recently when it was bought by the National Trust at auction in 1998 with the help of the Art Fund.

There hadn’t been a portrait of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke at the house for some time, and the National Trust curators were keen to show visitors a picture of a man who had been so important to the history of the place.

Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

The Wimpole portrait had originally been given by Hardwicke to his secretary, Hutton Perkins, who bequeathed it to his second daughter, Elizabeth. She married Richard Wood of Hollin Hall, North Yorkshire, and the portrait descended in the Wood family at Hollin Hall until offered for sale at auction by Christie’s in 1998 and purchased by the National Trust.

A grey Arabian in a landscape with the south front of Hollin Hall beyond, by John Ferneley, 1844 (?). ©Christie's

The Hammond-Harwood version, so Allison tells me, descended in the Yorke family to Susan Amelia Yorke (d. 1887), a niece of the 4th Earl of Hardwicke (the photographs of her shown here can be found at the Grand Ladies site).

In 1857 Susan married Charles Joseph Theophilus Hambro (1834-1891) , a scion of the Dano-British Hambro trading and banking family. Charles Joseph’s father, Charles Joachim Hambro, Baron Hambro (1807-1877), had recently moved to Britain, set up Hambro’s Bank, and purchased Milton Abbey in Dorset as his country seat.

Portrait photographs of Susan Amelia Hambro, née Yorke, by Camille Silvy, 1860. ©Grand Ladies

The Hudson portrait stayed at Milton Abbey until the Hambro family sold the house in 1932 and auctioned off part of its contents. The Hudson was bought by Mrs Clifford Hendrix and she donated it to Hammond-Harwood House in 1950.

Milton Abbey as illustrated in Morris's Country Seats (1880)

The histories – almost biographies – of these two identical portraits has been very different, but I think they illustrate rather well how the same work of art can mean different things to different people, at different times and in different places.

Clever waiters

April 3, 2012

Black basaltes ware bust of the actor David Garrick, on a dumb waiter in the Book Room at Wimpole Hall. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Courtney Barnes recently mentioned the tiered tables known as ‘dumb waiters’ on her blog Style Court. These tables were originally developed in the eighteenth century as convenient pieces of furniture to keep food and drink available in the evening after the servants had been dismissed. The traditional name presumably refers to the tables’ role as mute servants, rather than mentally challenged ones.

The Book Room at Wimpole. The plasterwork in the forground dates from the James Gibbs phase of the room, while the elliptical arches were designed by John Soane. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

I have found another example of such a tiered table in the Book Room at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire. I am not sure whether this particular one was originally used to hold food and was later moved to the library, or whether tiered tables were sometimes specifically made to hold books.

The chimneypiece and overmantel mirror in the Book Room designed by Soane. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The two main library rooms at Wimpole have a fascinating history. The original Library was created by James Gibbs in the late 1720s to house part of the the huge collection of books and pamphlets of the manic accumulator Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford.

View from the Book Room into the Library. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Gibbs also created part of what is now the Book Room by annexing half of the orangery and turning it into an anteroom to the Library. This room was extended in 1806 by Sir John Soane for Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke. Soane designed the characteristic elliptical arches decorated with paterae, executed by the plasterer John Papworth.

The Library at Wimpole, originally created by Gibbs for the 2nd Earl of Oxford. The windows at the far end and on the left were added later. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The history of the books at Hardwicke is even more convoluted: almost all of the 2nd Earl of Oxford’s books left Wimpole after his death, but the 1st Earl of Hardwicke brought in his own collection, as well as one inherited from Lord Chancellor Somers. His sons Philip Yorke, the 2nd Earl, and Charles Yorke also added to the books at Wimpole, including a collection inherited by the latter’s wife from Tittenhanger in Hertfordshire.

View of the Library looking towards the Book Room. The set of library steps began its life as a pulpit. The pair of globes dates from the early nineteenth century. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Philip Yorke, the 3rd Earl, sold some books in 1792 (while simultaneously commissioning Soane to enlarge the Book Room) and Charles ‘Champagne Charlie’ Yorke, the 5th Earl, sold a large part of the library in 1888. In the 20th century Captain and Mrs Bambridge once again added collections of books. These included some rare editions of Rudyard Kipling’s works, Elsie Bambridge being his only surviving child.

The private side of the public purse

March 30, 2012

Detail of the Lord Chancellor's purse of office at Wimpole Hall. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

I was wrong when I said earlier that we didn’t have good photographs of purses of office in National Trust collections. There are some excellent images of the Lord Chancellor’s purse, worn and tarnished but still an extraordinary example of the embroiderer’s art, that belonged the Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690-1764), at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire.

The Lord Chancellor's purse on display at Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The 1st Earl started out as an able and ambitious lawyer and politician and he went on to contribute to successive Whig governments. He was influential in shaping of the law of equity and the legal definition of marriage in England and Wales.

Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwick, as Lord Chancellor, by the Reverend James Wills (fl. 1746– d. 1777), c. 1740, at Erddig, inv. no. 1151294. His purse of office is propped up behind him. © National Trust Collections

He ended up being one of the longest-serving Lord Chancellors. It is said King George II did not recognise him after he left office since he had never before seen him without his robes of state and full wig.

Detail of the tarnished gold and silver thread on an angel's face on the Lord Chancellor's purse at Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Hardwicke purchased Wimpole in 1740 as a country house suited to his personal and dynastic ambitions. He employed the architect Henry Flitcroft to rebuild the house, which retains its external appearance from that time.

The south front of Wimpole Hall and St Andrew's parish church, both rebuilt by Henry Flitcroft for the 1st Earl of Hardwicke. ©National Trust Images/Rupert Truman

Wimpole was also the setting for Hardwicke’s growing family, especially during convivial late summer gatherings.  But then ‘family’ was often the equivalent of ‘business’ in the eighteenth century.

Portrait by Alan Ramsay of Jemima, Marchioness Grey and Countess of Hardwicke, the 1st Earl's daughter-in-law and a social networker in her own right. Inv. no. 207812.1 ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

Hardwicke’s eldest son Philip married Jemima, Marchioness Grey, and they lived at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire. His eldest daughter Elizabeth married Admiral Anson who, when he wasn’t sailing the globe, lived at Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire. Their distant Yorke cousins were based at Erddig, in Wrexham. The extended family was a power network as well as a social network (as I also touched on in this earlier post).

Royal weddings

April 29, 2011

The 1863 royal wedding. Illustration in a book in the library at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©NTPL/John Hammond

As a modest tribute to today’s event I thought I would show a couple of historical royal weddings, to see if we can spot parallels and differences. This is the wedding of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, to Alexandra, Princess of Denmark, at Windsor Castle in 1864 (Princess Alexandra can also be seen, depicted twenty years later, in this post).

Admission ticket to the 1863 royal wedding, from the library at Anglesey Abbey. ©NTPL/John Hammond

And this is an admittance ticket to that event. The fact that it directs the bearer to the roof of the New Guard Room seems to indicate that they were expecting significant crowds.

Detail from a commemorative bioscope showing the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1840. ©NTPL/David Garner

And this was Queen Victoria’s outfit for her wedding to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840 – with a slightly longer train than we saw today.

Wimpole inside out

April 20, 2011

View of Wimpole by Richard Bankes Harraden, 1821. ©Miles Wynn Cato

The spring 2011 issue of ABC Bulletin (which can be downloaded here) features an article by David Adshead and Amanda Bradley about a small painting of Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, that we have recently purchased from Miles Wynn Cato.

Wimpole Hall. ©NTPL/Megan Taylor

The little picture by Richard Bankes Haraden (1776-1862) is unusual in showing the Wimpole landscape ‘inside out’: not the view outward from the house towards the Gothic Tower, but instead looking from near the Tower back to the house, which appears almost hidden.

Design by Robert Greening design for the garden at Wimpole, c. 1752, showing the "eyetrap" he created by framing the view north from the house with trees. ©NTPL/Angelo Hornak

The views from the house into the park were originally designed by Robert Greening, who began to undo the formality of Wimpole’s park in the mid-1750s. The process was continued by ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1760s and 1770s. By the time Harraden painted his picture in 1822 the planting had clearly matured.

Longhorn cattle at the Wimpole Home Farm. ©NTPL/Jonathan Cass

The cattle shown in the painting are evidence of the agricultural improvements of Philip Yorke, the 3rd Earl of Hardwicke (1757-1834). Apart from commissioning the splendid stables at Wimpole from the architect John Soane (shown here earlier) he also introduced Leicester Longhorn cattle, a cross-breed developed for meat production.

The Gothic Tower. ©NTPL/Megan Taylor

So this small, modest picture contains all sorts of evidence about the development of the Wimpole estate. It also illustrates the Romantic conception of a landscape as a picturesque whole, rather than just a setting for a great house.


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