Kaftan, divan, shawl, kiosk, kilim, coffee, tulip, peacock: all originally imports from Asia, illustrating the abiding cultural influence of the East.
Newark Park, in Gloucestershire, is currently hosting an exhibition about the English fascination with the Orient. Courtney Barnes of Style Court is way ahead, as usual, having already featured it here.
John Nankivell shows his drawings of Central Asian interiors, Olivia Dell displays her latest textile finds from the bazaars of Istanbul, Carole Waller is inspired by slatted shutters, Candace Bahouth has made sparkling mosaic slippers and Gary Wood presents his tulip pots.
Newark Park was built by the courtier Sir Nicholas Poyntz in the 1550s as a hunting lodge (and possibly, as one jealous fellow courtier alledged, ‘to keep his whores in’). Its roof probably served as a grandstand to watch the hunt from. The architecture was advanced for its time and place, with Italianate Renaissance features.
It was later owned by a number of different families, and in about 1790 it was updated with Regency Gothic elements and Picturesque landscaping by James Wyatt.
In 1949 Newark Park was bequeathed to the National Trust, but it was accepted mainly for its agricultural income, and the house was let out. In 1972 a Texan architect called Robert Parsons took the house on, restored it and brought it back to life. Although he died in 2000, the place still exudes his hospitable spirit.
The exhibition runs until the end of July. For more information please ring 01793 817666. Michael Claydon, the current tenant of Newark Park, also has a website with more information about the house and about the late Robert Parsons.