Archive for the ‘Wiltshire’ Category

A book from the Stourhead library

June 17, 2011

The Library at Stourhead. ©NTPL/Bill Batten

We have just bought back a book that used to be part of the library assembled at Stourhead, Wiltshire, by Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838). The book, a copy of Thomas Philipott’s Villare Cantianum; or Kent Surveyed and Illustrated (1776), was purchased at Bloomsbury Auctions in London.  

Sir Richard Colt Hoare and his son Henry, by Samuel Woodforde. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Colt Hoare amassed a vast collection of books at Stourhead on the history and topography of Britain, arranged by county. Unfortunately these were sold in 1883 and replaced with books from other Hoare properties. But the room is still very much as Colt Hoare commisioned it from achitects Moulton and Atkinson in 1792. It represents his ideal of the scholarly life.

Painted window by Francis Eginton after Raphael's fresco The School of Athens. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The lunettes contain copies of Raphael’s fresco’s The School of Athens and Parnassus in the Vatican, one as a painted window, the other on canvas. The carpet incorporates motifs derived from a Roman tiled pavement and its lattice pattern is reflected in the barrel ceiling.

We will never be able to reassemble Colt Hoare’s library, but the presence of a few books like this one can help to explain to visitors what was once there.

Third day of Christmas

December 27, 2010

The church of St Peter, Stourton, in the grounds of Stourhead, Wiltshire. ©NTPL/Stephen Robson

The wabi of Great Chalfield

October 25, 2010

©Emile de Bruijn

As I was previously writing a post about Great Chalfield Manor and its canine mistress, it struck me how much this house and its garden embody the Japanese concept of wabi.

©Emile de Bruijn

Wabi stands for a humble beauty, the look of objects showing the signs of wear and patina. 

©Emile de Bruijn

Wabi can express a sense of melancholy, of sobriety and spareness.

©Emile de Bruijn

But by stripping away the more obvious trappings of beauty, wabi also exposes the fundamental vitality hidden in natural materials.

©Emile de Bruijn

Major Robert Fuller and his architect Sir Harold Brakspear seem to have had a very similar ideal in mind when they restored Great Chalfield in the late nineteenth century.

©Emile de Bruijn

And today Patsy Floyd maintains the garden in the same spirit, with flowers emerging from between flagstones and lush greenery contrasting with lichen-covered stonework. 

©Emile de Bruijn

It would be interesting to find out if Japanese visitors experience Great Chalfield in this way, or whether they see it as exotically ‘English’.

Mistress Ming

October 18, 2010

Ming, mistress of Great Chalfield Manor. ©Patsy Floyd

A colleague recently alerted me to a charming blog written by a dog called Ming, who lives at Great Chalfield Manor, in Wiltshire.

The north front of Great Chalfield Manor. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

 Ming keeps a lively account of her charmed life at the manor house with its beautiful garden.

©Emile de Bruijn

Great Chalfield is a medieval manor house which was rescued from decay in the late nineteenth century by Major Robert Fuller, the manager of his family’s rubber business, who employed the architect Sir Harold Brakspear to restore and remodel the house.

©Emile de Bruijn

The restoration was done so sensitively that the new work can now hardly be distinguished from the old.

The gazebo at the end of the top terrace designed by Brakspear. ©Emile de Bruijn

The garden was designed by Alfred Parsons in a romantic style to complement the house. It is still lovingly maintained.

One of the yew houses. ©Emile de Bruijn

Major Fuller gave the house and garden to the National Trust in 1943.

Wrought iron bootscrape next to pleasingly unobtrusive welcome sign. ©Emile de Bruijn

Major Fuller’s grandson Robert Floyd and his wife Patsy still live in the house as tenants and open it to the public on behalf of the National Trust.

Freshly squeezed research

April 9, 2010

Every year the National Trust produces a collection of articles, the Historic Houses and Collections Annual, reflecting the latest research by its curators. The 2010 issue has just come out, published in association with Apollo.

Read all about:

  • Riots at Knole
  • A Meissen folly
  • Books at Canons Ashby
  • Embroidery designs by Robert Adam
  • The library-rooms at Dunham Massey
  • Coleshill House and the 2nd Earl of Radnor
  • The Edwardian plant collector Frederic Lubbock
  • Scotney Old Castle
  • National Trust acquisitions 2009-10

To access or buy the Historic Houses and Collections Annual, click here (it is about to be listed on the NT bookshop site, but do let me know if it hasn’t appeared yet).

©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The slightly daunting cover image relates to a recent major acquisition at Lacock Abbey, where a group of Baroque terracotta figures by the mysterious artist Victor Alexander Sederbach populates the walls of the hall. We have now acquired the models for these sculptures, among many other things.

John Ivory Talbot (?1691-1772) by Michael Dahl. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Sederbach was commissioned to do these sculptures by John Ivory Talbot, who had the hall created by his architect Sanderson Miller in 1754-5. It is a well-preserved example of the the early neo-Gothic style, sometimes termed ‘Gothick’ in the self-consciously antiquarian fashion of the day.

©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The figure of a goat in one of the Sederbach sculptures has a sugarlump on its nose. It was first placed there by a student in 1919 and has remained there (or rather has been periodically replaced) ever since – we value our traditions!