SIDELIGHTS FROM THE 2017 COUNTRY HOUSE TOUR

by Victoria Hinshaw

On Number One London’s 2017 Country House Tour,  our group had a few adventures in addition to seeing spectacular houses and gardens. For most of our tour, we stayed at the Old Hall Hotel in the charming spa town of Buxton, Derbyshire, once well known for its warm mineral waters.

Old Hall Hotel, Buxton, Derbyshire

The healing qualities of the waters have been known since the Romans ruled.   Mary, Queen of Scots, came here several times while she was being held prisoner by the Earl of Shrewsbury in the late 16th century. A plaque on the hotel commemorates her visit, as does information etched into windows.

Old Hall Hotel, Buxton Derbyshire
A sharp eye might make out the writing on these windows
Outside the hotel are signposts to everywhere!
The comfy parlor where many a glass was raised!

Below, the streets of Buxton, and a former stables later turned into a hospital and which is now a part of the University.

Buxton
The Devonshire Dome, image from Visit Derbyshire
Once a covered riding arena, then a hospital…
Built by the Duke of Devonshire, the building is now a part of the University of Derby Buxton campus.
Church of St.Anne, said to be the oldest building in Buxton
Interior of St. Anne’s
The Crescent, Buxton, before restoration, image from georgraph.org.uk

The Crescent, built in 1779 by the Fifth Duke of Devonshire, is being restored as a five-star, 80-room hotel and spa, right around the corner from our Old Hall Hotel.

The Crescent, work in progress

We covered a lot of the Derbyshire countryside and drove through the Peak District National Park. We stopped at Castleton for a spot of tea, and a bit of jewelry shopping; the renowned semi-precious Blue John gemstones can be found here.

Perveril Castle, on  distant hill
Castleton, Derbyshire
A little clump of lobelia brightened the scene

To close our series of adventures, I will tell you about an ancient bridge still in daily use despite its inconveniences.  The Swarkstone Bridge and Causeway is almost a mile long, crossing the River Trent and adjacent marches.

Swarkstone Bridge, image from Wikipedia
Swarkstone Causeway

This Grade 1 listed structure, an official Ancient Monument, is a bit narrow for today’s traffic, so vehicles sometimes have to take turns driving over some stretches.  It gives a good idea of how bridges were once built for traffic consisting of walkers, horses, donkeys, oxen, and assorted wheeled vehicles long before the internal combustion engine. I hope they never replace it!

The way it looked from inside our bus

I have ever so much more to write about this great trip with Number One London Tours – Find details regarding Number One London’s 2019 Country House Tour here.

THE 2017 COUNTRY HOUSE TOUR: ACT THREE

by Victoria Hinshaw

What is more magnificent than Chatsworth House? How about a fashion exhibition of clothing shown in the very rooms in which they were worn?

Great Hall and Coronation Robes

The exhibition House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth was on show and we felt really fortunate to see all these wonderful garments long stored away, in most cases.

Gentleman’s Court Dress
Note the tiny waist in this 18th century gown worn by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
Ballgown by John Galliano for Christian Dior, worn by granddaughter Stella Tennant in 1998
Symphony in White
In the Dining Room

Many other treasures are permanently on display at Chatsworth, not to mention the art, gardens, restaurants and shops which delighted us.

Trial by Jury, or Laying Down the Law, by Sir Edwin Landseer, 1840
A charming miniature
Veiled Vestal Virgin by Raffaelle Monti, 1847

The Cavendish family and Dukes of Devonshire descended from the marvelous Elizabethan lady known as Bess of Hardwick.  At age 70, after surviving four husbands (Cavendish was #2), and assisting her fourth husband, the Earl of Shrewsbery, in holding Mary Queen of Scots under house arrest for many years, Bess built herself one of the finest “prodigy” houses of the age.

Hardwick Hall

Architect Robert Smythson designed Hardwick, one of England’s earliest structures in the Renaissance style.  Bess chose the sight on a high hill next to the Old Hall, which is partially in ruins today.

Hardwick Old Hall

Huge windows bring light into the rooms, astonishing her contemporaries.  Despite  her age of 70 years, Bess lived here for about ten  years, dying in 1608.   The property was left to her son William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Devonshire. Among the treasures in the house are fine portraits and excellent tapestries, shown under reduced illumination for their protection.

High Great Chamber

Bess of Hardwick. c. 1520-1608 by Rowland Lockey, 1592

We made a quick stop at the ruins of Sutton Scarsdale, a fine Georgian mansion now roofless and in ruins, in order to appreciate the state in which some houses are in when they are handed over to the National Trust, English Heritage or a civic or government body.  Built in 1727, the house contents were auctioned in 1919.

Sutton Scarsdale in ruins

The estate is owned by English Heritage, which is in the process of conserving some of the remaining plasterwork and other features. It is a sad reminder that houses such as these may be lost forever unless they are funded and maintained by governments or heritage organizations.

Sutton Scarsdale

Though the whereabouts of most of the contents are are unknown, at least one room has been recreated and adapted at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, probably a reception room from the ground floor.

photo c. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Our final day with Number One London Tours in 2017 was spent at Tatton Hall, another Georgian house, this time carefully cared for.  I neglected to get around to the front for a photo, but here is an excellent replacement.

photo from VisitManchester
The less imposing Visitors’ (and Tradesmen) entrance
The brightness of Georgian color schemes always amazes me.
A charming child’s sleigh
A vast painting celebrates the Hunt
The Drawing Room
The Library
The Dining Room
The Nursery
Below Stairs

We ended our visit with tea at the Gardener’s Cottage, sad that our visit was almost at an end, but already looking forward to our next Number One London Tour.

 

Find details regarding Number One London’s 2019 Country House Tour here.

THE 2017 COUNTRY HOUSE TOUR: IMMERSED IN DELIGHT

by Victoria Hinshaw

This is how I felt for almost the entire 2017 Number One London Country House Tour. I love visiting English Stately Homes and this Tour offered a stellar variety of periods, architectural styles, and decorative arts. Plus, our group was remarkably compatible and full of historical curiosity. We had great food, accommodating drivers, fun hotels, etc. etc. etc.  Only thing I wished for was more energy!!!

See how our first hotel’s wall recognized our goals!

Our first stop was one I had been eagerly anticipating for several years.  Wentworth Woodhouse has only recently opened to the public. As you  can see from the pictures of the south facade, you have to get back a long distance to photograph the entire house, and this is only half of it.

Wentworth Woodhouse

Said to be the largest private residence in Europe, Wentworth-Woodhouse in fact is two houses joined. The earlier west-facing house was begun by the 1st Marquess of Rockingham in the 1720’s in mellow red brick in the baroque style. A few years later, the same Marquess chose to build an even larger house, the east facade, constructed of sober grey stone in the Palladian style.

West Facade
East Facade
The floorplan of the house(s) and the aerial view show how there are actually two complete houses, back to back.

Recently WW, as I will refer going forward to Wentworth Woodhouse to save my fingers, has been seen in several films and on television.  In Episode One of Season Two of Victoria, the scenes of the royal couple reviewing the regiment were staged in front of WW.

I will relate the full story of WW soon, and a long complicated tale it is.  For the time being, just know that touring it was fascinating. Recently, the estate has been acquired by a Preservation Trust after many years as a school and then standing empty and abandoned for some time. Fortunately, the Trust will preserve and restore the house and the gardens.

Wentworth Woodhouse, September 2017

We entered on the ground level, to find a great forest of pillars, cleverly named the Pillared Hall.

And a noble staircase leading to the Piano Nobile, that is, the State Rooms.

The Marble Hall, with its patterned floor and elaborately decorated ceiling.

Looking down from the gallery

It is easy to see why there are so many pillars holding up this vast room, which was used for all sorts of gatherings, as a grand ballroom, as a gymnasium for the women’s college, and it also stands in for Buckingham Palace in the film Darkest Hour.

Most of the rooms are now empty, previous furnishings sold, stored, or lost.  WW is a venue for business meetings and weddings, with the facilities able to accommodate either intimate gatherings or a virtual mob.

The Whistlejacket Room

The gilded walls of this room once held the famous 1762 painting by George Stubbs of Whistlejacket, a champion racehorse owned by the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham.  Sold to partially fulfill death duties, the canvas now hangs in London’s National Gallery, where I had visited at the beginning of my trip. The version at WW is a  copy.

Whistlejacket by Stubbs at the National Gallery
Another corner of the Whistlejacket Room

I will close with three views of the extensive gardens, which are being restored after wholesale destruction for strip mining of coal. Next time I will cover, more briefly, other houses we visited on Number One London’s 2017 Country House Tour.

The Giant Urn
The South Terrace
The Ionic Temple containing a statue of Hercules
Part Two coming soon!

Find details regarding Number One London’s 2019 Country House Tour here.

LOCUST GROVE KENTUCKY

Locust Grove is advertised as “where Louisville  began.” The mansion was built in the 1790’s by William and Lucy Croghan. They raised their family here and a frequent resident was Lucy’s brother, General George Rogers Clark, a hero of the Revolutionary War.

The lovely bright sunshine prevented me from photographing this side of the mansion.
This view is from their website, here.
Also from the  website: “This c.1792 Georgian mansion tells the story of its builders, William and Lucy Clark Croghan, and the story of American beginnings.  William and Lucy Clark Croghan, along with Lucy’s brother, General George Rogers Clark, welcomed a generation of American luminaries to their home to rest, dialogue, campaign, and duel.  Presidents James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, John James Audubon, Cassius Marcellus Clay, and Lewis and Clark—among others—all passed through Locust Grove. Now a National Historic Landmark, Locust Grove is a unique example of early Kentucky architecture, craftsmanship, and history.”

The rest of the pictures are mine.  And a perfect day for the camera it was.

The garden was moving into its post-harvest phase.

Below are portraits of Lucy Clark (1765-1838) and William Croghan (1752-1822)  in the Dining Room.

Note the the hand-blocked wallpaper design.

The silver coffee and tea service was made in Philadelphia with the family crest.

Dining Room, as it was in 1811

Small parlor, as of 1815

Again, the drawing room wallpaper is worthy of note.

The imported Brussels carpet is particularly fine.
Bedroom of George Rogers Clark from 1809 until his death in 1818

More fascinating wallpaper, with an American Revolutionary theme

These walls of the Farm Office are painted in verdigris, which was explained as an odiferous compound in which one part was urine or excrement.  Rarely used in bedroom I presume.
Central Hall on the Ground Floor
Family Guest Room: I found the striped carpeting interesting.

Great Parlour on the second floor, as of 1811, used for family gatherings, as a ballroom, for playing games and many other activities.

According to the website, ” The fortepiano was made by Broadwood in London in 1806
 and is still used for concerts.”

The wallpaper is a reproduction of the original Arabesque pattern. 
The Rose Room, with cradle, below

The Croghan bedroom

Above and below,  the third floor girl’s bedroom

Above and below third floor boy’s bedroom
From the website: “In this room, out of our usual time frame, it’s the 1840s. This represents the history of the house after William Croghan’s death in 1822, when the next generations moved in and out of the shared house. This room focuses on John Croghan (the eldest son), and his work as a doctor and as the owner of Mammoth Cave.”
Third floor Storage Room (wish I had one of these)
In the Museum, a portrait of General George Rogers Clark by Matthew Jouett, ca. 1825
Also in the Museum, a dollhouse model of the house
Text Panels n the Museum tell the story of the farm, the family, and early life in 18th century Kentucky, as well as the story of General Clark and William Clark, a cousin who explored to the Pacific with Meriwether Lewis in 1804-06.
Family Quilt made for the museum
18th C. Pistol
Approximation of an 18th C. Surveyor’s Cabin, such as William Groghan would have built on his property; remnants of such a building were discovered in the garden a few years ago.
The kitchen is in a nearby outbuilding, as would have been usual in the 18th C.

Above and below, other views of the kitchen

Adjacent to the kitchen is a room set up for a servant or a slave, above and below.

Wood storage 
showing the outbuildings (right) and cellar door

Ice House
above and below, cabin built in 1815

Take a virtual tour of Locust Grove here.
To read about slave life at Locust Grove, click here.
Locust Grove is a National Historic Landmark, operated by a foundation for the City of Louisville.
If you can make it to Louisville, be sure to consult the on-line schedule of events, and visit when the place is teeming with reenactors, antique dealers and/or more tourists! 

RELIVING THE DREAM: TRAVELS WITH VICTORIA

Place de la République, Paris
 
My travels this summer were indeed the dream of a lifetime, over a month spent in France and England.  And with two of my favorite people in the world, France with my husband Ed — and England with blog partner Kristine. No one could ask for more, unless that both of them were along for the whole time.
 
As I write this, I am still rather jet-lagged, days and nights mixed up. Kristine reports she had a relapse of her cold and is bed-bound for a while.  Of course, one might never mention the condition of our feet — or leg muscles, backs, and overflowing brains, so I won’t.
 
 
Courtyard of Crown Plaza République
 
So while I try to re-enter the real world after this fabulous interlude of travel (sore feet notwithstanding), I will share a few pictures and thoughts from France.  Kristine and I intend to do quite a few posts on our Duke of Wellington Tour and our many other adventures in England, but for the moment, please join me near Paris.
 
Malmaison
 
Ed and I had several visits in mind to some of the lesser known museums and sites.  Paris in August is full of visitors, so we wanted to see what we could find just off the beaten track.  One of my personal goals was to visit the home of Josephine, who married then divorced Napoleon so that he could wed a younger woman and sire an heir.  Malmaison was her escape form the rigors of the Court, where she could relax and fill her garden with the roses for which she is so famous.
 
Malmaison
 
The house is lovely, and truly worth a visit.  The gardens overflow with flowers, though I suspect Josephine would have kept them a bit better.  It is said that after her death, and just before he was sent away to St. Helena in 1815, Napoleon returned to Malmaison to mourn his lost love, not to mention his empire.
 
La Defénse
 

On the way back from suburban Malmaison, we stopped to take a look at La Defénse, la Grand Arche, which is the western-most point of the axis of the Champs Élysées through the Arc de Triomphe.  Guidebooks report that the Arche is so large that the entire Notre Dame Cathedral could fit inside it.  It is certainly impressive, set in an esplanade among a huge number of sleek modern hi-rise buildings, but to me, it doesn’t say anything except concrete.  It has none of the beauty of the rest of Paris.

Église du Dôme, Hôtel des Invalides
 
On our stroll to the Musée Rodin, we passed nearby Invalides, where Napoleon is buried.  We decided to let him rest in peace, rather than whisper to his tomb about the victory of the Duke of Wellington almost 200 years ago at Waterloo.
 
The Thinker, Musée Rodin
 
The Musée Rodin in the Hôtel Biron is lovely, and as the weather cooperated, we spend a great deal of time in the beautiful garden where a convenient café beckoned.
 
the Garden from above
 
 

As you can see, we had sunny weather with clouds from time to time, warm temperatures — and so it was to be for our entire stay in France as well as almost to the first day of autumn in England.

I will continue meandering through Paris and Normandy intermixed with our posts on England, so stay tuned for more.  Adieu.