Archive for the ‘Sudbury Hall’ Category

The Fowler touch

July 26, 2010

The Great Hall at Sudbury. Can you spot the Fowler touches? ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

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. 

Coral on coral on white. And note the just so arrangement of furniture and objects. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

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.

The Long Gallery. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

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. 

The Great Staircase. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

As regards the Grand Staircase, Fowler analysed the layers of paint on the balustrade, identified two shades of white which he believed to be the original ones, and repainted the previously dark woodwork in those shades. I think the result looks marvellous, but of course it is also distinctly Fowlerish. What do you think?