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.
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.
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.
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.
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.