Wimpole in the round

The Breakfast Room at Wimpole Hall, the table set with tea for one to suggest the period during the 20th century when the house was owned by Elsie Bambridge. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

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.

An angling party, by Edward Smith, mid 18th century, acquired by Elsie Bambridge for Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

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.

Portrait by Alan Ramsay of Jemima, Marchioness Grey, in the Long Gallery at Wimpole. The sitter lived at Wimpole in the late 18th century. ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

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.

Portrait of the 1st Earl of Hardwicke by Thomas Hudson, in the Long Gallery at Wimpole. © National Trust Collections

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.

A collector in his study, Wenzel Wehrlin, mid 18th century, acquired by Elsie Bambridge for Wimpole. ©National Trust Images/Roy Fox

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.

2 Responses to “Wimpole in the round”

  1. Toby Worthington Says:

    Having taken the virtual tour, my eyebrows went up as I pondered
    the caption to an image of the book room’s Egyptian Revival looking glass over a chimney piece.

    “The chimney-piece and dramatic, gilded over-mantel mirror with a pair of three-armed sconces were designed by Sir John Soane. The Art Deco ‘style’ of the mirror, made in approximately 1806, was created by combining elements of Gibb’s architectural detailing with those of Soane, creating a design 100 years before its time.”

    Does the caption imply that the 1806 mirror design was anticipating
    the 1930s style known colloquially as Vogue Regency? Because
    if so, there is something topsy-turvy about that comparison.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes Toby I agree that that captions appears to be a bit confused. Soane’s work is sometimes called proto-modern, but to call that mirror ‘art deco’ doesn’t seem quite right. I will check to see who is in charge of those captions and see if it can be changed.

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