The remodelling of Felbrigg Hall mentioned in the previous post, which took place between about 1749 and 1755, created a sequence of fashionable rococo interiors cleverly integrated into a much older house.
Much of Felbrigg reflects the lively, almost contradictory personality of William Windham II. In his youth he was known as ‘boxing’ Windham and it was said that ‘he had an utter abhorrence of restraint, which made him love to associate with those that put him under none at all: here he might throw his legs against the chimney, round himself into a hoop in his elbow chair, and at the same time read one subject, and converse on another …’
Windham did not go to university, but toured the Continent with his tutor Benjamin Stillingfleet, staging plays and touring a glacier with his friends, acquiring paintings and books as well as contracting an impetuous marriage to the daughter of the First Syndic of Geneva.
When Windham inherited Felbrigg in 1749 he first employed Paine to build a new service wing, which included workshops where he could pursue his interests in woodturning and bookbinding.
Paine then restructured the main house, creating a number of beautiful rococo interiors. However, older features such as 17th century ceilings and chimneypieces were often left in place out of respect for the history of the house.
Outside, too, Windham retained the different appearance of the two wings of the house, dating respectively from the early and the late 17th century. In his house as in his personal life, he seemed to revel in contradiction.