Travels with Victoria: WILTON HOUSE – Part Two

By Victoria Hinshaw

Wilton House, by Rex Whistler

The view above is a 1935 painting of Wilton House by Rex Whistler (1905-1944).  Wilton House, near Salisbury in Wiltshire is renowned for its architecture, interiors, treasured artworks, and all the elegancies associated with the most distinguished of Britain’s stately homes. And, like some of the others, it is frequently the scene of major filming for cinema and television. The South Façade is the location of the State Apartments created by James Wyatt in the early 19th century, replacing the 17th century arrangement of rooms by Architect Inigo Jones (1573-1665) and his assistant Isaac de Caux and later altered by Webb.

The Crown: (L to R) JFK, Jackie, Elizabeth, Philip – The Kennedys and Windsors meet.

Above, Wilton’s Double Cube Room plays Buckingham Palace in episodes of The Crown on Netflix. Below, it doubles for Pemberley in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice, 2005

Although there is dispute over how much of the south wing of Wilton House can be attributed to Inigo Jones (1573-1652), we know that the Double Cube Room and the Single Cube Room along with the other state rooms were finished by John Webb (1611-1672) in the mid-17th century. Various changes have been made over the years, but the earls and countesses have maintained most of the magnificence designed by Jones and Webb. Below, two views of The Single Cube Room, 30x30x30 feet in dimension, a perfect cube.

Single Cube Room

The Double- and Single-Cube Rooms were part of the State Rooms in which the monarch was to visit and mingle with Lord Pembroke, his family, friends, and retainers. The Single Cube Room, below, was the first of the State Rooms and led into the Double Cube. The furniture is by Chippendale, added in the 18th century. Above, the Single Cube Room, 30 x 30 x 30 feet.

Single Cube Room

The portrait over the fireplace is Henriette de Querouaille, Countess of Pembroke, wife of Philip, 7th Earl, and sister of Louise, mistress of Charles II and mother of the 1st Duke of Richmond. The portrait was painted by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680).

Sir Peter Lely, artist

The Double Cube Room, below, is the size of two 30-foot cubes, a technique Inigo Jones used in several buildings. Much of the furniture in the two rooms is by William Kent or Thomas Chippendale.

Double Cube Room

The Double Cube Room, originally called The King’s Great Room, is sixty feet long by thirty feet wide and thirty feet high. The magnificence of the room defies description! The ceiling decoration is clearly in the baroque style.

The central ceiling panels show three views of the legend of Perseus painted by Emmanuel de Critz. The twelve-foot coving was decorated with swags, urns, and putti by Edward Pierce, a frequent collaborator with Architect Inigo Jones. They are dated c.1653

Double Cube Room

Below, the painting for which the room was designed, the magnificent family portrait, c. 1635, by Anthony Van Dyck of the 4th Earl of Pembroke and his family which hangs at one end of the Double Cube Rooms. At 17 feet wide, it is the largest portrait by Van Dyck (1599-1641) in England. Numerous other portraits by Van Dyck and his studio adorn the walls.

Van Dyck

The State Rooms served as Allied headquarters during World War II; the D-Day landing in Normandy was planned here.

Below, the Great Ante Room, added in the 18th century, is sometimes thought of as James Wyatt’s homage to Inigo Jones.

Great Ante Room

The King’s Bed Chamber and King’s Closet were redecorated in the 18th c. for the visit of George III and Queen Charlotte in 1778. Many priceless masterworks hang on the walls.

The house is replete with great works of art in multiple media. Many members of the Herbert family, the Earls of Pembroke, were avid collectors.

Rembrandt

Above,  Mother Reading, c. 1629, by  Rembrandt van Rijn  (1606-1669), is one of the most famous paintings in the collection of Wilton House.

Shakespeare

At the currently-used entrance on the North Front, visitors arrive in the Front Hall designed by James Wyatt in 1809. Who better to greet us than The Bard himself. According to the Guidebook, the statue “recalls the 2nd Earl’s and his wife Mary Sidney’s patronage of literary men and of Shakespeare above all.”

Smoking Room

Numerous other rooms, more than one could count, are worthy of attention. I particularly liked the Large Smoking Room, redecorated by the current Lady Pembroke in 2017. The picture above was taken before the new color scheme was installed. Below is the yellow moiréed silk now on the walls. The huge bookcase, from the workshops of Chippendale, is a temptation I could hardly survive. What is tucked away inside? Imagine how much work you could get done here — once you had examined the art and furniture and gazed out the windows for a month or two!

Chippendale Bookcase
South Front

I have visited Wilton House several times, but I will never get enough of this wonderful house and grounds…on the edge of the city of Salisbury in Wiltshire.

If you’d like to see some of England’s stately homes in person, visit our Number One London Tours site to see all of our upcoming country house tours and their itineraries. 

 

Travels with Victoria: WILTON HOUSE – Part One

North Front

On the edge of the city of Salisbury is one of England’s greatest country houses, the home of the Herbert family for almost five centuries. Wilton is one of those fabled British Country Houses which almost defy description. Should one concentrate on the architecture, which includes Tudor, Elizabethan, Palladian, and Regency examples? The interior, of amazing variety and stellar quality? The gardens? The collection of old master artworks?  Or, how about the many stories of the history of the Herbert family, which is currently represented by William Alexander Sidney Herbert, 18th Earl of Pembroke, his Countess and their four children?

South Front

The top photo shows the North Front, dating from the Tudor era, the current public entrance to the house. Immediately above is the South Front, the wing of the house probably designed by Architect Indigo Jones in the Palladian style in the 17th century. This area contains the sumptuous state rooms.

East Front

Above, the East Front, opening into the public lawns and gardens, dating before the 16th century. This was the original entrance to the house. You can see that even today, restoration work is necessary.

West Front

The West Front and its garden are the private areas of the 18th Earl of Pembroke, his wife and four children. Below, the official portrait of William Herbert, the 18th Earl of Pembroke, and his dog painted by artist Adrian Gottlieb. ‘Will’ is the latest of the long line of owners belonging to the Herbert family,

photo: Adrian Gottlieb

I am sorry to report that no photography is allowed in the house so in these posts, I will be mixing ‘borrowed’ photos, of which there are many on the web, with my own pictures. First, let’s look at the exterior and the gardens. Below, an aerial shot of the house with the south façade at the left.

Below, from the central cloisters courtyard, looking east at the inside of the East Front. The original house was built on the site of an 8th-century priory. After Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, the site was ceded to Sir William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke (of the new creation) in 1544. He constructed a house in the quadrangular style which through many remodelings, remains today with a central open courtyard.

Below, peeking out from inside the cloisters, re-built by James Wyatt in 1801.

Inside the Cloisters, you will find a collection of statuary, including rare classical antiques collected by the Earls of Pembroke.

Today, visitors enter through another courtyard facing the North Front, past the fountain and a grove of trees among the patterned plantings.

North Front Visitor Entrance

Behind us was the great gate, often a symbol of Wilton House.

Leaving the interior for another post, let’s look at some of the gardens. I am particularly fond of Palladian Bridges – why I cannot imagine, but I find them charming. Below, the Wilton Palladian Bridge, constructed in 1737 by the 9th Earl of Pembroke, known as the “Architect Earl” and his assistant Roger Morris. It was designed to bridge the River Nadder in the style of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). It has been copied at least three times, at Stowe and at Prior Park near Bath in England and at Tsarskoe Selo near St. Petersburg, Russia.

Wilton House Palladian Bridge

The inspiration for the Palladian Bridge is reputedly an unbuilt design for Venice’s Rialto Bridge, drawn by Andrea Palladio about 1570, pictured below in a Capriccio by Canaletto, 1742.

©Royal Collection Trust

The river Nadder is a chalk stream known for its trout flyfishing.

Below, the charming Japanese Garden, also known as the Water Garden, with its red bridges and reflecting pools, was designed by Henry Herbert, 17th Earl of Pembroke, who died in 2003.

By Herry Lawford from Stockbridge, UK – Wilton, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42551086

In Part Two, we will look at the magnificent interiors of Wilton House.

 

Veni, Vidi., etc. The Romans in Britain

by Victoria Hinshaw

Britain is dotted with Roman sites, often a surprise to visitors.  The Romans were here for 400 years….think back from today to 1618.  Seems like a very long time ago, but that’s how many centuries the Romans ruled most of Britain.

Beneath the Guildhall Art Gallery

As any first-year Latin student knows (as if there are any of them around these days), Caesar led his armies all over Europe, writing “Veni, vidi, vici,” meaning ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’ This didn’t pertain to Britain but the spirit certainly did.

Londinium

This artist’s conception of the London of the 1st century AD

Londinium

Another artist’s idea of London showing a circular arena/amphitheatre in the lower center.  The remains of such a structure were discovered in 1988 when excavations for the new Guildhall Art Gallery, replacing one bombed in WWII, uncovered Roman remains. Now below the art, one can visit the outlines of the ancient scene of gladiatorial combat.

The Guildhall Art Gallery, 2017

There are even the remains of the contestants.

Remains of the Roman Walls around London can be seen in several locations.

Roman Wall at the Barbican
Statue of Trajan near fragment of the Roman Wall on Tower Hill-The Londonist

Below, the view of the Roman Baths in — where else? — the City of Bath. The warm waters bubbling up from deep in the earth proved soothing to many centuries of visitors, including me.

Aquae Sulis

The ‘new’ modern complex was a true treat.

Thermae Bath Spa

Some of Britain’s most famous sites are Hadrian’s Wall, almost at the Scottish border, and its several forts.

Hadrian’s Wall
Housestead’s Fort, photograph taken by Mark A. Wilson

Fascinating Roman artifact from British sites fill rooms at the British Museum, below, with architecture inspired by Rome’s glory days but constructed in 1823.

Roman Displays in the British Museum
Marble statue of Mithras slaying the bull

Many of the Roman legionaries were followers of the cult of Mithras, a religion popular in ancient Rome. A large Temple of Mithras was found in Londonium.

Roman Coins

Thousands of coins not to mention all sorts of jewelry, household items and weapons from Roman days have been found in Britain. And many villas have been fully or partly-excavated in all corners of the land.

Fishbourne Roman Palace

In West Sussex, excavations have uncovered the remains of a large Roman complex which housed many and carried out many functions from fishing and shipping to agriculture. As even in today’s U.K., great wealth came from the production of wool.  Love those sheep!

Fishbourne Palace Mosaics
Fishbourne Palace Mosaic

Boy on a Dolphin is the subject of this intricate floor mosaic.

Bignor Roman Villa

Also in West Sussex is the Bignor Roman Villa, with more complex and stunning mosaics.

Bignor Roman Villa

In Gloucestershire, the Chedworth Roman Villa can be compared to some of the remaining 17th-19th century great country houses of Britain as centers of political and social hegemony as well as repositories of art and culture  and centers of communities of agricultural and technological innovation.

Chedworth Roman Villa

In plumbing alone, the Romans had comforts long lost for subsequent populations: running water, hot water, heated houses, sewage disposal — how could people have forgotten???

Chedworth Roman Villa

An artist’s evocation of the estate.

Chedworth Roman Villa

More mosaics…only a few of the many treasures left for us by the Romans.

A New View of 1815 London

By Victoria Hinshaw

A very exciting exhibition featuring a Panorama of London begins March 15  at the Museum of London, and will run until September 2019.  This extraordinary work was executed as a study for a panorama that was shown in Paris from 1816-1819 by artist Pierre Prévost. The full-sized work, several times larger than these studies, is now lost. One newspaper referred to the work as “London as the Duke of Wellington would have seen it.” Others have noted it is the London Jane Austen knew.

The artist, Pierre Prévost (1764-1823), viewed London from the bell tower of St  Margaret’s Church, adjacent to Westminster Abbey.

St. Margaret’s Church, London; note Big Ben behind the trees to the left

The first view in the scan above looks west from the edge of Westminster Abbey (at the left edge); the large building in the center, above, is the now-demolished Middlesex Guildhall and in the distance is St. James Park, and in a better reproduction, you can see Buckingham House, the palace, as it was in 1815.

Above, the studies split in half. The top image is west and north; the bottom image is east and south.

The Sotheby’s Auction Catalogue description:

Pierre Prévost – MONTIGNY-LE-GANNELON 1764 – 1823 PARIS

A PANORAMIC VIEW OF LONDON, FROM THE TOWER OF ST. MARGARET’S CHURCH, WESTMINSTER
Watercolour and bodycolour over pencil, squared for transfer in pencil, the squares numbered, on multiple sheets of paper laid onto canvas 850 by 6050 mm.

Looking north up Whitehall, the Banqueting House is seen at the curve; the steeple in the distance is St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields but Trafalgar Square which it faces today, was not yet created. The Sotheby’s Catalogue states, “To the centre of the composition, one can see the only remaining component of the Palace of Whitehall, the Banqueting House. Designed by the leading English architect Inigo Jones (1573-1652), the Banqueting House was commissioned by Charles I; in 1649, just 27 years after its construction, it was the site of his execution.  The neoclassical St. Martin-in-the-Fields stands nearby. The site of a church since the medieval period, this had been re-built by James Gibbs in the 1720s. Prévost’s view shows the area prior to the construction of Trafalgar Square in the 1820s, and the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields would therefore have appeared considerably different to how it does today. Contemporary accounts of the area describe the church as crowded in by surrounding buildings, which detract from the impressive nature of Gibbs’ edifice.”

Above, looking northeast, beyond Westminster bridge one see the City, mercifully shorn of its tall buildings with the outline of St. Paul’s Cathedral on the horizon slightly left of center.

The view above looks east across the Thames, with the Westminster Bridge on the left and the roof of Westminster Hall parallel to the river in the center. The buildings in the foreground were various elements of the Palace of Westminster which burned in 1834 and were replaced by today’s Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, incorporating the ancient and restored Westminster Hall.

The final sections, above and below, feature Westminster Abbey in its smoke darkened coating.

In the Georgian era, panoramas were popular exhibitions. The first opened in London in 1792 and according to The Guardian, viewers paid three shillings to view the painting which curved around a room “dramatically” lit.

In preparing this post, I was surprised to learn that the Museum of London is planning to move its entire Barbican operation to a new site in the old Smithfield Market, also located in the City of London. No doubt they will construct a fine exhibit space for this painting when they complete their plans and move, sometime in the next decade.

Being from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I have occasionally run across the stories of the German Panorama Painters who came to the city in the mid-19th century and painted many of these works installed in various cities.  The only remaining one I know of is in Atlanta,  Georgia, and recently reopened as the Cyclorama in the Civil War Museum.

However, the only panorama I have ever seen is the one that still exists in Waterloo, Belgium, picturing the famous battle in 1815 when the Duke of Wellington led the Allied forces to victory over the emperor Napoleon, pictured below.

More details  about the London Panorama from the Sotheby’s  catalogue:

“Of extraordinary size, detail and topographical accuracy, this view of London is a remarkable preparatory study for a lost panorama of approximately 30 metres in diameter, by Pierre Prévost, which shows the artist at the pinnacle of a highly successful career as a panoramist …. The illusion of depth, height and distance is testament to Prévost’s ability to work on such a large scale, and this complete, circular image, joined at Westminster Abbey, is one of the finest drawings of its type to have survived….

“By 1800 panoramas could be viewed in many European capitals. The works were usually exhibited for a short period of time in a rotunda, before travelling on, and ultimately were replaced or sold. The nature of this process has ensured the rarity of the completed panorama, as excessive handling and transportation in most cases resulted in their ultimate destruction.”

The Sotheby’s catalogue entry states: “While the final canvas created by Prévost would have been very much larger (it was exhibited in a purpose built rotunda on the rue Neuve Saint-Augustin in Paris, measuring 32 metres in diameter, over five times the size of this preparatory drawing), even this preliminary study is of an impressive size, and is highly finished ….

“The street scenes in the foreground bring a sense of life to the panorama, and allow the viewer to engage fully with the daily activity of the city’s inhabitants….Here, shops and professions are indicated in the foreground in remarkable detail. On Great George Street, the road running horizontally across the centre foreground, the shops include a wine and brandy merchant and a solicitor, whilst on Bridge Street, which runs towards Westminster Bridge, an apothecary, a shoe-maker and a children’s clothes store are indicated. ”

I hope many people enjoy seeing the London Panorama of 1815.

 

 

OSBORNE HOUSE – Part Three

The Royal Family by Winterhalter

One of the most charming areas of Osborne House is the nursery, occupied by the nine Royal children when staying on the Isle of Wight. The rooms have been preserved and offer a glimpse into the privileged world of Victoria and Albert’s children.

 

The Royal children may have had the benefit of wealth of privilege, but they were fortunate in also having hands-on parenting, especially from Prince Albert, who involved himself in their playtime and education, striving to teach them industry and practical matters by example. The Swiss Cottage, which Prince Albert had built on the grounds of Osborne House, was designed to teach both, so Victoria and I headed through the grounds to find it.

The formal terraces
The rhododendrons are brilliant in May
Bluebells fill the woods in May

 

The Swiss Cottage

The Prince used the Swiss Cottage to employ an extensive educational regime for the children, with each one being given their own garden and the responsibility of planting and tending it. In addition, there were lessons in natural history, languages and other intellectual pursuits.

In the ground floor museum, Prince Albert and the children assembled collections to study and sketch.

Nigerian carving of the Queen

A Great Bustard, among the many stuffed creatures the children studied

Upstairs, you’ll find a complete cottage, all scaled down to allow the children to learn domestic sciences.

Dining Room in the Swiss Cottage where the children often stayed

The tea table is set for July 21, 1861, the final time the whole family was together before Prince Albert’s death.

The Sitting Room

The kitchen

The gardens tended by the royal children

Sports were also on the Prince’s educational agenda, with the beach at Osborne House factoring in to the children’s daily routines. It was Albert who personally gave each of the children their first swimming lessons. Naturally, it was our next destination.

This turtle sculpture was one of many along the path.

The path leads from the Swiss Cottage to the picnic grounds and beach.

The shaded pavilion where Queen Victoria often sat to sketch.

Today, visitors are invited to relax by the water and to enjoy refreshments in comfortable chairs.

Speaking of refreshments, they are Queen sized at Osborne – that’s Kristine’s hot chocolate above, complete with a marshmallow so big, it needed it’s own cup.

Queen Victoria’s bathing machine sits beside the tea house.

 

Remember, you can see Osborne House and Gardens first hand.  Please take a look at Number One London’s 2019 Queen Victoria Tour – also on the itinerary are Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Royal Pavilion at Brighton.