A recent post by the Columnist mentioned carved coral and the threats to that natural resource. At the risk of seeming frivolous, I want to use that as a pretext to show these beautiful coral-coloured curtains at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire.
They were installed in 1969 by John Fowler (1906-1977) who was then working for the National Trust as adviser on historic interiors. The house and the principal contents had been accepted by the Government from the tenth Lord Vernon in 1967 in lieu of inheritance tax and transferred to the National Trust.
As many of the furnishings had gone, the decision was taken to emphasize the magnificent carvings and plasterwork, and to use colour to bring the house alive – hence the shades of coral in the Great Hall. In some ways this use of colour to create an effect was a forerunner of the use of smells and sounds at some properties today.
In the Long Gallery the ceiling was repainted to tone in with the walls, and the dark polish was taken off the floorboards. Although the result looks very harmonious, it is perhaps not quite historical enough by today’s standards. And that in itself shows how the way we see the past is always changing.