Archive for the ‘Scotney Castle’ Category

The shock of the old

July 9, 2013
Dress worn by Rosamund Anstruther, Mrs Edward Windsor Hussey (1877-1958). ©National Trust

Dress worn by Rosamund Anstruther, Mrs Edward Windsor Hussey (1877-1958). ©National Trust

Dame Helen Ghosh, the director-general of the National Trust, writes an internal blog about her experiences and thoughts while traveling around National Trust places and meeting colleagues. Recently she mentioned coming upon this Edwardian dress at Scotney Castle and suddenly being transported back in time.

Portrait of Rosamund Hussey by James Jebusa Shannon, painted shortly after 1900. ©National Trust Images/John HammondMRS EDWARD WINDSOR HUSSEY ON THE TERRACE by James Jebusa Shannon, (1862-1923), an American artist, on the Staircase in the new house at Scotney Castle, Kent

Portrait of Rosamund Hussey by James Jebusa Shannon, painted shortly after 1900. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The dress belonged to Rosamund Hussey who lived at Scotney during the first half of the twentieth century. She was painted wearing it by the society portraitist J.J. Shannon shortly after her marriage to Edward Windsor Hussey in 1900.

Mrs Hussey being painted by Shannon. National Trust Images

Mrs Hussey being painted by Shannon. National Trust Images

I have previously touched on the poignant juxtaposition between historic items of clothing and portraits showing them being worn, as also seen at Antony and in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The Scotney pairing is even more layered in that there exists a contemporary photograph showing the portrait being painted – an interestingly self-conscious celebration of the event of having one’s portrait painted, and an equally fascinating contrast between the new medium of photography and the old medium of oil on canvas.

View from the new house at Scotney down to the castle. ©National Trust Images/John Miller

View from the new house at Scotney down to the castle. ©National Trust Images/John Miller

And I suppose the garden at Scotney, shown in the background of the picture (and of the photograph), adds yet another visual layer which – like the dress – is still there.

Twentieth-century country house living

July 7, 2011

The early Victorian 'new house' at Scotney Castle, home of the late Christopher and Betty Hussey. ©NTPL/David Sellman

Since Scotney Castle in Kent initially opened to the public in 2007 work has been ongoing to restore and arrange those interiors that needed more attention.

The drinks tray in the Library at Scotney. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Now the final three ‘show’ rooms in the house have been opened to view.

The Bamboo Bedroom. ©National Trust

In the Bamboo Bedroom visitors are now welcome to sit at the dressing table in the bay window or have a rest on one of the room’s twin beds.

The Friends Bedroom. ©National Trust

The Friends Bedroom is home to a number of works of art given the late Christopher and Betty Hussey by their friends after enjoyable stays at Scotney. In this room you can also sit at the desk and write a comment about your own visit.

The Salvin Bedroom. ©National Trust

The Salvin Bedroom and its adjoining bathroom are shown as if houseguests are about to retire for the night.

The Red Bedroom. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

So there aren’t just new rooms on show at Scotney, but the way the rooms are experienced is also more intimate and direct than was previously the norm in country houses open to the public.

It’s Grimm down south

August 27, 2010

©Burstow & Hewett

Breaking news: we have just managed to purchase this little pen and ink sketch of Scotney Castle, Kent, dated 1783, by Samuel Hieronymous Grimm (1733-1794). We bought it at auction at Burstow & Hewett in Battle, East Sussex.

Emma Slocombe, the curator for Scotney, notes that it is probably a preparatory sketch for the watercolours of Scotney by Grimm which are in the British Library. We are always potentially interested in acquiring pictures that show what our historic properties used to look like.

The only remaining tower of the old castle at Scotney, with the ruins of the other parts of the building. ©NTPL/Stephen Robson

The sketch shows quite a lot of detail, including various buildings which have since disappeared or fallen into ruin. Originally Scotney was a castle with four corner towers, but the building was domesticated through successive alterations in about 1580, 1640 and 1720.

The old castle seen from the new house. ©NTPL/John Miller

In the early nineteenth century the house was abandoned as being too damp and unhealthy. In the 1830s Edward Hussey built a new house on the hill above, while incorporating the ruined castle into his picturesque garden. Other posts on Scotney can be found here.

The hermitage at Selbourne, Hampshire, with Henry White as the hermit, 1777, by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, at Dunham Massey, Cheshire. Note the 'picturesque' seat made of untreated branches. ©NTPL

There are a few other works by Samuel Hiernonymous Grimm at other National Trust properties. Apart from topographical pictures, he also produced mythological and picturesque scenes.

At home with Betty Hussey

March 31, 2010


The hall at Scotney Castle. Image: National Trust

Last week I showed photographs of a few rooms at Scotney Castle. Here are the same rooms, and some others, but now seen through the medium of watercolour. 

Mrs Hussey in the Kitchen. Image: National Trust

The pictures are by Sam Beazley, who is an actor as well as an artist and who used to own the Portmeirion antique shop in Pont Street, London.

The garden lobby. Image: National Trust

Mr Beazley was a friend of the late Mrs Betty Hussey and often visited Scotney during her lifetime. He painted these views in the 1980s.

The flat. Image: National Trust

Last year he generously donated a group of 18 of these watercolours to the National Trust for display ay Scotney Castle.

The bamboo bedroom. Image: National Trust

The artist has not only captured the quality of the light in the different rooms, but he has also faithfully recorded the formica kitchen table, an electric heater, a television and other signs of modern life.

The new house

March 22, 2010

The ruin at Scotney Castle, with the new house beyond. ©NTPL/John Miller

The garden at Scotney Castle, in Kent, is one of the finest surviving examples of the Picturesque landscape style. Around 1840 Edward Hussey III commissioned Anthony Salvin to build a new house there. The garden was designed by William Sawrey Gilpin, who incorporated the ruin of the old castle in a picturesque composition that could be admired from the new house.

The hall at the new house. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Edward’s grandson Christopher Hussey inherited Scotney in 1952. He was an architectural historian who contributed to Country Life for over 50 years. In 1927 he had written a pioneering study of the Picturesque movement, which was directly influenced by his experience of the garden at Scotney. He was also one of the minds behind the National Trust’s Country Houses Scheme, through which historic houses were beginning to be secured in the 1940s.

Christopher Hussey's study. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Christopher and his wife Betty reinvigorated the garden, and they furnished the house with heirlooms as well as new purchases. Although they were keen to preserve the original neo-Elizabethan decor, the interiors also clearly show their own taste and interests. 

Some of Christopher Hussey's books. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Husseys’ friends have testified that Scotney was a happy and welcoming place. The interiors show what life could be like in an English country house in the twentieth century, with a relaxed coexistence of old and new.

The kitchen. ©NTPL/John Miller

Scotney was left to the National Trust upon Christopher’s death in 1970, but Betty continued to live in the house during her long widowhood. After her death the contents of the house were accepted in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust in 2008.

The bamboo bedroom (during 2010 this room may only be open on selected days). ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The house is now open to visitors. It adds another layer to the already rich and multifaceted experience of Scotney.