Design writer Emily Evans Eerdmans recently gave a talk at the Royal Oak Foundation, the American friends of the National Trust, on the subject of English Art Deco. That prompts me to show a few images of Coleton Fishacre, in Devon, which is a fascinating Art Deco showcase.
Coleton Fishacre was built for Rupert D’Oyly Carte by Oswald Milne in 1923-6. Richard D’Oyly Carte had been the impresario behind the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, and his son Rupert went on to to develop the family business empire, which also included the Savoy Hotel and Claridge’s in London.
Coleton Fishacre was acquired by the National Trust in 1982 as part of the Neptune Coastline Campaign, in order to safeguard this beautiful stretch of Devon coastline. The lush garden was immediately shown to the public, and more recently the house has also been opened up.
Much of the original furnishings had gone, however. When the contents of a historical house (even one as recent as Coleton) are missing, the National Trust has to take the decision as to whether to leave it as is, and just show it for the architecture and perhaps let the house, or to attempt a recreation.
In this case there were old photographs available to show what the rooms looked like in the twenties and thirties. National Trust curators have been acquiring similar pieces in order to restore the original look.
This particular type of between-the-wars interior, in which antiques are mixed with modern pieces, is sometimes known as ‘Curzon Street baroque’, after the exclusive London street where such interiors were often seen.