Among the items recently accepted by the Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to Lyme Park are some pieces of wonderfully sculptural rococo furniture.
This allocation includes a pair of carved giltwood side tables with Portoro marble tops and two pairs of carved giltwood wall brackets. One of the pairs supports two Chinese Dehua porcelain female figures.
The rococo furniture at Lyme was originally acquired by Peter Legh XIII, who inherited the house in 1744. He finished the decoration of a number of rooms remodeled by his uncle Peter Legh XII in the 1730s and early 1740s.
Pseudo-Chinese birds, perhaps echoing the decoration of the Chinese porcelain in the house, appear on some of the rococo girandoles introduced by Peter XIII. At the same time he also seems to have added the 17th century oak paneling that came from another family house, Bradley in Lancashire, demonstrating the eclecticism of the middle of the 18th century.
The giltwood chandeliers and the harpsichord by Hitchcock also date from this period.
But it wasn’t all sweetness and light: Peter XIII ended up separated from his wife, led astray by his mistress and his manipulative sister, being wheeled up and down the galleries at Lyme in a bath chair. Following Peter XIII’s death in 1792 the house entered a period of neglect which wouldn’t be reversed until his great-nephew Thomas Legh came of age in 1813.