Archive for the ‘Dunster Castle’ Category

Some pistols from the Glorious Revolution

December 1, 2011

Pair of late seventeenth-century English pistols with a provenance from Dunster Castle. ©Brian Godwin

Yesterday we succesfully bid at auction on a pair of of pistols dating from the late seventeenth century and with a provenance from Dunster Castle, Somerset. They were coming up in the Bonhams arms and armour sale at their Knightsbridge auction rooms in London.

Dunster Castle. ©NTPL/Magnus Rew

The sale was well attended, with some strong prices, and we had to bid quite a bit above the top estimate in order to secure the pistols at £24,000 hammer price.

We are very grateful to the V&A Purchase Grant Fund for offering a grant towards this acquisition, and to our firearms adviser Brian Godwin for assessing the importance of the pistols.

The gatehouse at Dunster. ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

The pistols had been sold from Dunster in the early 1970s (before the National Trust acquired the castle), but up till that time they had been there continuously since the 1680s.

In 1688 Francis Luttrell, a local squire and owner of Dunster, joined the Glorious Revolution when William of Orange landed at Torbay. Luttrell managed to raise a regiment in a mere three days, partly due to his local connections, but also because there was a well-stocked armoury at Dunster, which this pair of pistols was probably part of.

Francis Luttrell (1659-1690). ©NTPL/John Hammond

Apart from playing a minor role in this momentous event in British history, Francis Luttrell also repaired and refurbished Dunster Castle, which had been damaged and neglected during the Civil War.

Plasterwork on the ceiling of the Dining Room at Dunster, put up in 1681. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

His heiress wife Mary Tregonwell provided the funds for some very fine plasterwork ceilings and a beautifully carved staircase. The carving on the latter is probably by the sculptor Edward Pearce the younger. Interestingly, the staircase was originally painted grey.

Detail of the carved balustrade of the staircase at Dunster, showing acanthus leaves, a beagling hound and a cornucopia. ©NTPL/Bill Batten

We hope soon to be able to display the pistols at Dunster, to enhance the story of this ancient castle at the time of the Glorious Revolution.

A Victorian library at Dunster Castle

August 18, 2011

The Library at Dunster Castle. ©NTPL/Bill Batten

Mark Purcell, the National Trust’s Libraries Curator, runs a thriving open Facebook group called National Trust Libraries. There he shares fascinating facts, discoveries and images to do with the books and library rooms in the care of the National Trust.

Wallpaper imitating Spanish leather hangings, installed in the Library as part of the Salvin remodeling of Dunster. ©NTPL/Bill Batten

He just posted the above image of the Library at Dunster Castle, Somerset, which he says is not a particularly important with regard to its books, but is definitely an evocative example of a Victorian library sitting room.

George Fownes Luttrell, by Cyrus Johnson. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The room was created in 1870-1 by the architect Anthony Salvin for the owner of Dunster, George Fownes Luttrell and his wife Anne Elizabeth.

Anne Elizabeth Hood, wife of George Fownes Luttrell, by Cyrus Johnson. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Salvin was known for his work remodelling ancient castles such as Alnwick in Northumberland. The Luttrells similarly wanted to bring their own castle into line with Victorian levels of comfort and efficiency, but at the same time to preserve and enhance the medieval and Jacobean elements of the building.

Dunster Castle seen from the Lawns. ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

Although the £25,000 budget at Dunster was only about a tenth of that at Alnwick, Salvin made various changes both inside and out which were meant to look as if they had been gradually added over the centuries. At the same time that did not prevent him from installing gas lighting, central heating, running hot water and the latest kitchen equipment.

Dunster Castle in its landscape. ©NTPL/Magnus Rew

Another example of Salvin’s picturesque work can be found at Scotney Castle in Kent. And Mark Purcell, as many of you will know, has recently published a book about historic Irish libraries.