Archive for the ‘Gloucestershire’ Category


July 16, 2010

One of Charles Wade's Indonesian theatre masks at Snowshill Manor. ©NTPL/Stuart Cox

A recent post about Indonesian textiles by Courtney Barnes over at her Style Court blog made me think about the Indonesian masks at Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire.

©NTPL/Stuart Cox

They are part of the collection of Charles Wade (1883-1956), who trained as an architect, but who really came into his own as an artist, craftsman and collector.

The South front of Snowshill Manor seen from the garden. ©NTPL/Nick Meers

Wade bought Snowshill in 1919 and gradually transformed the old Cotswold manor house into an Aladdin’s Cave.

The Seraphim room. ©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

He gave the rooms evocative names, such as Seraphim, Mizzen and A Hundred Wheels. Wade and his friends organised amateur theatricals in the house using items from the collection as costumes and props, and with candles and a smoky fire for extra effect.

©NTPL/Stuart Cox

Wade’s collecting was motivated by a love of craftsmanship. The scope of his collection expanded from British objects to include items from southern Europe and West and East Asia. 

Javanese masks representing the evil spirit Rangda. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Wade gave Snowshill to the National Trust in 1951.

The Dutch connection

July 2, 2010

The Diogenes Room at Dyrham, taking its name from the subject of the tapestries, and also featuring Delft flower pyramids and other vessels. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Dyrham Park, in Gloucestershire, has a variety of Dutch collections. I previously mentioned the Dutch paintings, but there is also a rare collection of seventeenth-century Delft glazed earthenware.

William Blathwayt (?1649-1717) by Michael Dahl. ©NTPL/Ian Blantern

These Delft vessels and flower stands were acquired by William Blathwayt during his travels on the Continent. As a high-ranking official under William III (if a slightly plodding one – he was known as ‘the elephant’) he frequently accompanied the Dutch king on his visits back to Holland.

One of the Delft flower holders at Dyrham. The painted decoration is derived from Chinese models, but the shapes are a Dutch Baroque invention. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The vogue for Delft blue and white was led by the king’s wife and co-regent, Queen Mary II, who assembled a large collection of it in the Water Gallery at Hampton Court Palace, where even the furniture was painted blue and white.

©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The displays of flowers in the Delft vases at Dyrham are echoed by the Netherlandish flower paintings in the house.

The State Bed seen in a mirror in the Damask Bedchamber, surrounded by yet more Delft. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The state bed is in the style of Daniel Marot, the architect and designer favoured by William III.

Embossed leather panels in the East Hall. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

William Blathwayt also imported stamped leather wallhangings from Holland. All these elements together create a remarkably Dutch ambiance in the middle of hilly Gloucestershire.

The house and the garden were acquired by the Ministry of Works in 1956 and, following extensive repairs, transferred to the National Trust in 1961. Funds for the acquisition came from the National Land Fund (now the National Heritage Memorial Fund), which had been set up to save places of national importance in memory of the sacrifices of the Second World War.

Povey’s pictures

June 21, 2010

Landscape with elegant figures walking along a country path, a distant view of a town (Delft?) beyond, by Willem van den Bundel, oil on panel. ©NTPL/John Hammond

This picture, and its pair below, are by Willem van den Bundel (c 1575-1655), a painter who moved from Flanders to Amsterdam, eventually settling in Delft. He was one of a number of Flemish artists who migrated north after the Spanish siege and subsequent fall of Antwerp in 1585, helping to create what became known as Holland’s Golden Age.

Landscape with figures passing a pond and resting traveller, a distant view of towns (Overschie and Rotterdam?) beyond, by Willem van den Bundel, oil on panel. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Van den Bundel seems to have learnt his craft from Gillis III van Coninxloo (1544-1607), who developed the depiction of wooded landscapes as a subject in its own right, an approach also seen in the paintings shown here.

Engraving of Dyrham Park by Johannes Kip (d.1722). ©NTPL

The National Trust purchased this pair of pictures at Sotheby’s in London in 2008 for Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire, with generous support from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund. They had been sold in the big sale of 1954 when the Blathwayt family left Dyrham after two and a half centuries of occupation.

It is interesting to compare the above birds-eye-view of Dyrham, including the formal gardens and outbuildings, with the view of Newton House, of roughly the same date, shown in the previous post. In both places the baroque garden had to be inserted into a hilly site. 

Thomas Povey, by Michael Wright, c 1658, at Dyrham Park. ©NTPL

The pictures originally came from Thomas Povey (1618?-1700?), who moved in court circles and was a founder member of the Royal Society. He kept a splendidly furnished house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London, where the diarist Samuel Pepys admired his wine cellar and collection of Dutch pictures.

Ornamental fowl, attributed to Melchior de Hondecoeter, at Dyrham. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

In 1693 Povey sold a number of pictures as well as about 500 books to his nephew William Blathwayt (1649?-1717), a succesful civil servant. Blathwayt used the paintings to furnish his new country house, Dyrham Park.

A trompe l'oeil picture by Samuel van Hoogstraeten terminates the view through several doors at Dyrham. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Dutch pictures would have been regarded as advanced at the time, and they may also have signalled Blathwayt’s allegiance to the King William III, who had been invited to come over from Holland and oust the unpopular James II in 1688. Blathwayt had previously worked for James II, but his ability to speak Dutch and his general usefulness ensured him a place in the new administration.

Bringing home the East

May 31, 2010

Images: Mike Henton

Kaftan, divan, shawl, kiosk, kilim, coffee, tulip, peacock: all originally imports from Asia, illustrating the abiding cultural influence of the East.

Newark Park in its hilltop setting. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

Newark Park, in Gloucestershire, is currently hosting an exhibition about the English fascination with the Orient. Courtney Barnes of Style Court is way ahead, as usual, having already featured it here.

A peacock, whose ancestors came originally from India, adds an appropriately exotic touch to the Garden Hall at Newark Park. Beyond are the Mendip Hills. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

John Nankivell shows his drawings of Central Asian interiors, Olivia Dell displays her latest textile finds from the bazaars of Istanbul, Carole Waller is inspired by slatted shutters, Candace Bahouth has made sparkling mosaic slippers and Gary Wood presents his tulip pots.

The east facade and garden. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

Newark Park was built by the courtier Sir Nicholas Poyntz in the 1550s as a hunting lodge (and possibly, as one jealous fellow courtier alledged, ‘to keep his whores in’). Its roof probably served as a grandstand to watch the hunt from. The architecture was advanced for its time and place, with Italianate Renaissance features.

1825 print of Newark Park. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

It was later owned by a number of different families, and in about 1790 it was updated with Regency Gothic elements and Picturesque landscaping by James Wyatt.

A corner of the drawing room. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

In 1949 Newark Park was bequeathed to the National Trust, but it was accepted mainly for its agricultural income, and the house was let out. In 1972 a Texan architect called Robert Parsons took the house on, restored it and brought it back to life. Although he died in 2000, the place still exudes his hospitable spirit.

The exhibition runs until the end of July. For more information please ring 01793 817666. Michael Claydon, the current tenant of Newark Park, also has a website with more information about the house and about the late Robert Parsons.