Archive for the ‘Stourhead’ Category

A carpet’s journey

September 16, 2014
Room view from the north West corner of the Saloon at Stourhead, Wiltshire

The Saloon at Stourhead, originally created by Henry Flitcroft in the 1740s but reconfigured by Doran Webb after a fire in 1902. The Axminster carpet has been in the room since at least 1824. ©National Trust Images/Bill Batten

The Axminster carpet in the Saloon at Stourhead has been there since the early nineteenth century, making its first known appearance in a sketch of the room by J.C. Buckler dated 1824.

Light and wear damage to the carpet. ©National Trust

Light and wear damage to the carpet. ©National Trust

Recently it was showing its age, and it has now been taken to the premises of carpet conservators The Tetley Workshop. The conservation treatment includes cleaning, adding support to damaged areas and restoring some of the losses.

Grid lines laid over the carpet to enable it to be surveyed in detail. ©National Trust

Grid lines laid over the carpet to enable it to be surveyed in detail. ©National Trust

The £36,000 cost of this project is part of the support received from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery towards the National Trust’s conservation priorities.

Cleaning in progress. ©National Trust

Cleaning in progress. ©National Trust

The 9.7 x 8.6 m. carpet has been moved once before, when the house caught fire in 1902 and the servants were trying to save what they could. This time round it took a sizable team of Stourhead gardeners and garden volunteers to help roll and move the carpet.

Repairs in progress. ©National Trust

Repairs in progress. ©National Trust

The carpet will be returning to Stourhead in November 2014.

Palladian or Chinese?

September 2, 2014

View of the Chinese bridge at Stourhead, with the temple of Apollo beyond, by Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838), 1780-1800. ©V&A Images

View of the Chinese bridge at Stourhead, with the temple of Apollo beyond, by Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838), 1780-1800. ©V&A Images

In response to the previous post about the garden at Stourhead, Andrew helpfully pointed us towards some images of the so-called Chinese bridge there, which was built around 1749 but was taken down again at the end of the eighteenth century. I thought I would feature some of the contemporary views of this piece of short-lived eighteenth-century chinoiserie.

Temporary recreation of the Chinese bridge at Stourhead set up by the structural engineering firm Mann Williams in 2005. ©Mann Williams

Temporary recreation of the Chinese bridge at Stourhead set up by the structural engineering firm Mann Williams in 2005. ©Mann Williams

Single-arch timber bridges were often called ‘Chinese’ in the eighteenth century, probably because they were reminiscent of the bridges shown on Chinese porcelain, lacquer, silk and wallpaper.

View of the Chinese bridge at Stourhead by Copleston Warre Bampfylde (1720-1791), 1770s. ©V&A Images

View of the Chinese bridge at Stourhead by Copleston Warre Bampfylde (1720-1791), 1770s. ©V&A Images

Strictly speaking, however, the use of this type of bridge in Europe goes back to a design in Palladio’s Third Book of Architecture (as noted, for instance by Professor Timothy Mowl in his 1993 book Palladian Bridges).

View of the garden at Stourhead from the Chinese umbrella, by Fredrik Magnus Piper (1746-1824), 1779. ©Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm, with thanks to John Harrison's Pinterest boards.

View of the garden at Stourhead from the Chinese umbrella, by Fredrik Magnus Piper (1746-1824), 1779. ©Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm, with thanks to John Harrison’s Pinterest boards.

Palladian structures sat happily next to Chinese and Gothic ones in mid-eighteenth-century British gardens and there was a considerable degree of stylistic cross-fertilisation. Some ‘Palladian’ arched bridges acquired ‘Chinese’ fretwork balustrades, whereas others kept their ‘Palladian’ x-shaped cross-braces, but were still dubbed ‘Chinese’.

Sino-Palladian bridge in the park at Wörlitz, Saxen-Anhalt, originally built 1772. With thanks to John Harrison's Pinterest boards.

Sino-Palladian bridge in the park at Wörlitz, Saxen-Anhalt, originally built 1772. With thanks to John Harrison’s Pinterest boards.

The popularity of the English landscape garden ensured that these Sino-Palladian bridges were also exported to other parts of Europe – a nice example of the circulation and reinterpretation of a design motif.

 

 

Alfred, the emblematic king

June 20, 2014
Historic building conservator Philip Scorer inspects the fabric of King Alfred's Tower. ©National Trust

Historic building conservator Philip Scorer inspects the fabric of King Alfred’s Tower. ©National Trust

The National Trust’s South West Blog keeps coming up with great images at the moment. A suitable caption for this one might be ‘Just another day working for the National Trust.’ I love Philip Scorer’s studious pose, pen and paper at the ready, while dangling off the side of an eighteenth-century folly.

King Alfred's Tower, Stourhead. ©National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

King Alfred’s Tower, Stourhead. ©National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

In fact it shows Philip inspecting King Alfred’s Tower, on the Stourhead estate, which is in need of repair. Significant funds have already been raised, including grants from the Viridor Environmental Credits Company and from the Mackintosh Foundation, but we are now trying to find the final £24,000.

King Alfred the Great, attributed to Samuel Woodforde (1763-1817), at Stourhead, inv. no. 732296. ©National Trust, image  supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

King Alfred the Great, attributed to Samuel Woodforde (1763-1817), at Stourhead, inv. no. 732296. ©National Trust, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The tower demonstrates how the figure of King Alfred (849-99) was used as a cultural emblem in the eighteenth century. This Anglo-Saxon king was known for repelling vikings, rebuilding towns and cities, reforming the legal system and encouraging scholarship and religion.

Bust of King Alfred in the Temple of British Worthies at Stowe. ©National Trust Images/Jerry Harpur

Bust of King Alfred in the Temple of British Worthies at Stowe. ©National Trust Images/Jerry Harpur

From the sixteenth century onwards Alfred ‘the Great’ came to be revered as the epitome of a virtuous monarch. He was seen as a symbol of British virtues such as patriotism, love of liberty and respect for the rule of law.

Portrait of Anne Hoare, later Lady Mathew (d.1872), with King Alfred's Tower in the distance, by William Owen, RA (1769-1825), at Stourhead, inv. no. 732267. Image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Portrait of Anne Hoare, later Lady Mathew (d.1872), with King Alfred’s Tower in the distance, by William Owen, RA (1769-1825), at Stourhead, inv. no. 732267. Image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

King Alfred’s Tower at Stourhead was designed by Henry Flitcroft (1697-1769) for Henry Hoare II (1705-85). It commemorates the peace with France in 1762 and the recent accession of King George III (1738-1820), like Alfred seen as ‘a truly British King’.

Painted plaster relief of King Alfred, probably 1760s, in the Caesar's hall, Kedleston Hall, inv. no. 109000.2. ©National Trust/Andrew Patterson

Painted plaster relief of King Alfred, probably 1760s, in the Caesar’s hall, Kedleston Hall, inv. no. 109000.2. ©National Trust/Andrew Patterson

American readers of this blog might well question George III’s credentials as a champion of liberty, but I suppose that is one of the ironies of history.

Claude: from canvas to garden

November 17, 2011

Claude Lorrain, The Father of Psyche Sacrificing at the Temple of Apollo, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Over the weekend I visited the Claude Lorrain exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The show focuses on bringing together the paintings of the seventeenth-century master with his drawings and prints.

Claude Lorrain, The Landing of Aeneas at Palanteum, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©NTPL/John Hammond

It is fascinating to see Claude playing with different landscape motifs and trying out all sorts of combinations. In spite – or perhaps because of – this his paintings exude an air of timeless serenity.

Claude Lorrain, Jacob with Laban and his Daughters, at Petworth, West Sussex. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Claude’s pictures were hugely popular in Britain, so much so that, as the exhibition catalogue states, nearly all of them have been in British collections at some point, or are still there today.

John Constable, The Opening of Waterloo Bridge, at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©NTPL/Christopher Hurst

Claude’s work inspired a number of British painters, such as Constable, Cozens and Turner.

Watercolour of Stourhead by by Coplestone Warre Bampflyde, at Stourhead, Wiltshire. ©NTPL

Claude also influenced the development of the English landscape garden, and nowhere is this more obvious than at Stourhead, in Wiltshire.

Stourhead today. ©NTPL/Nick Daly

There are other strands of meaning at Stourhead as well, of course, including an awareness of the various local springs, references to antiquity and subtle political symbolism. But the compositional language that brings it all together is very much that of Claude.

The Regency library at Stourhead

August 23, 2011

The Library at Stourhead. The chimneypiece and overmantel were added in 1913, but apart from that it very much reflects the Regency taste of Sir Richard Colt Hoare. ©NTPL/Bill Batten

In a comment on the previous post Jolie Beaumont asked about Regency libraries, and Craig Marriott responded that the one at Stourhead in Wiltshire is a prime example.

Sir Richard Colt Hoare and his son Henry, by Samuel Woodforde. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The Library at Stourhead was built in 1792 by Moulton & Atkinson for Sir Richard Colt Hoare, 2nd Bt. (1758-1838). Colt Hoare was a shy, scholarly man who inherited Stourhead with its classically-inspired landscape garden from his grandfather, Henry Hoare II.

©NTPL/John Hammond

Following the early death of his wife Colt Hoare spent six years on the Continent, mostly in Italy. He developed his interests in topography and history and patronised artists such as Louis Ducros, J.M.W. Turner, John Buckler and Francis Nicholson. Colt Hoare was a prolific if indifferent artist himself.

Fold-out plate showing Stonehenge in a volume in the Library. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Back in England Colt Hoare turned to recording and publishing the antiquities of Wiltshire. He filled the Library at Stourhead with topographical books and records.

Library steps by Chippendale the Younger. ©NTPL/John Hammond

He also commissioned many items of furniture from Thomas Chippendale the Younger, which display the bold features of the Regency style and include various antiquarian references.

©NTPL/Bill Batten

As a reflection of Colt Hoare’s character and interests, the Library is almost as much a ‘work of art’ as his grandfather’s landscape garden outside.

A book from the Stourhead library

June 17, 2011

The Library at Stourhead. ©NTPL/Bill Batten

We have just bought back a book that used to be part of the library assembled at Stourhead, Wiltshire, by Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838). The book, a copy of Thomas Philipott’s Villare Cantianum; or Kent Surveyed and Illustrated (1776), was purchased at Bloomsbury Auctions in London.  

Sir Richard Colt Hoare and his son Henry, by Samuel Woodforde. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Colt Hoare amassed a vast collection of books at Stourhead on the history and topography of Britain, arranged by county. Unfortunately these were sold in 1883 and replaced with books from other Hoare properties. But the room is still very much as Colt Hoare commisioned it from achitects Moulton and Atkinson in 1792. It represents his ideal of the scholarly life.

Painted window by Francis Eginton after Raphael's fresco The School of Athens. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The lunettes contain copies of Raphael’s fresco’s The School of Athens and Parnassus in the Vatican, one as a painted window, the other on canvas. The carpet incorporates motifs derived from a Roman tiled pavement and its lattice pattern is reflected in the barrel ceiling.

We will never be able to reassemble Colt Hoare’s library, but the presence of a few books like this one can help to explain to visitors what was once there.

Third day of Christmas

December 27, 2010

The church of St Peter, Stourton, in the grounds of Stourhead, Wiltshire. ©NTPL/Stephen Robson


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