July 28, 2019, is the 153rd birthday of Beatrix Potter, an extraordinary woman we remember with great affection and appreciation. Victoria here, a lifelong fan of Peter Rabbit and the other familiar characters she wrote about.
Born in 1866, Helen Beatrix Potter (died 1943) lived in London and vacationed in the Lake District and Scotland. She studied animals and plants, and developed a love of the outdoors as well as an ability to draw plants and fungi.
This website (click here) will give you all the background you need on the stories, her life, and her legacy. It also provides information on the recently discovered Tale of Kitty-in-Boots which was published in September 2016, a special treat for all of us.
Perhaps Potter’s most valuable contribution, beyond her stories, is her gift of more than four thousand acres of land in the Lake District of Britain. She left the land to the National Trust which has maintained her Hill Top Farm (click here) open to visitors. Most of the land is incorporated into the Lake District National Park.
Hill Top Farm
One of my favorite stories is The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. I suspect it is more because I adore hedgehogs, not because I am a neatness freak about housework and laundry.
Fortunately, Potter’s stories and their wonderful illustrations have been preserved. No disney-fication for them! My grandchildren have greatly enjoyed the DVDs from the BBC with the original characters. In 2006, Miss Potter,starring Renee Zellweger was filmed. The trailer is here.
Hooray for you, Beatrix Potter!! And thank you for all your gifts.
Victoria, here, reporting on the day Kristine and I spent at this jewel in Robert Adam’s architectural crown. Osterley Park is managed by the National Trust and a very good job they do! I had visited the estate several years ago, and this time I was excited to learn that we could take pictures INSIDE. So, prepare yourselves for a set of interior shots of many rooms. All pictures in this post were taken by me or Kristine, unless otherwise noted.
We could not stop snapping!
Kristine leans in for a close-up
But I am getting ahead of myself! The approach to the house is suitably dramatic, viewed across a pond laced with water lilies in full bloom. Queen Elizabeth I visited the first manor house here after its completion in 1576. Thomas Gresham, a wealthy banker, built the house, Another wealthy banker, Sir Francis Child, hired Robert Adam to remodel it in 1761, and the current look – both inside and out – is very much that of the Adam period in all its glory. Adam had one section of the square house replaced with handsome Georgian columns, framing an open courtyard. The great house and estate passed down in the line of the Child banking family. Sarah Sophia Fane inherited the house from her grandfather, Robert Child; she married George Villiers (who added Child to his surname) who became the 5th Earl of Jersey. Thus the house for almost 200 years, belonged to the Earls of Jersey. The 9th earl presented it to the National Trust in the 1940’s.
We arrived in time for a curator’s tour, but we had time to take a quick look around before it began.
The Entrance hall has identical alcoves at each end with a fireplace and two classical statues in each.
The Hall was used as a saloon and reception room and occasionally for dining; Adam designed it to replace the original hall demolished for the columned entrance.
The floor of black marble on white reflects the design in the ceiling, a frequent Adam feature.
The large painting between the doors in the dining room is by Antonio Zucchi (1726-1795) entitled Figures Sporting in a ruined Roman Bath, part of a set of paintings he did, including The Four Continents, above the doors. Twelve mahogany chairs with lyre backs and two arm chairs were designed by Robert Adam and probably made by John Linnell (1729-1796) of London; Linnell executed the designs for the rest of the room’s furnishings as well. The chairs are placed around the perimeter of the room in the 18th C. manner. Tables of several sizes were kept in the servant’s passages; they could be set up when needed.
Pier table topped with antique marble mosaics, one of a pair
both topped by ornate 7-foot tall mirrors
Marble Fireplace, with Doric columns
Painting by Giovanni Battista Cipriani (1727-85) An offering to Ceres
During our tour of the house, a small group gathered in the Gallery to hear the curators speak about the house, its design and its treasures, its history and the continuing restorations of various rooms both above and below stairs to their appearance when completed by Adam. We found some places to sit, but not, of course, on any of the antique furniture.
The gallery is 130 feet long and faces the garden. It once housed a billiard table and a fortepiano. Henry James described the room as ‘a cheerful upholstered avenue into another century.’
Above is one of six mirrored girandoles (ornamental branched candlesticks), also made by John Linnell for Robert Adam.
Two pairs of Chinese mandarin jars date from
the reign of the Chinese emperor Qianlong (1736-95)
One of several settees, also part of Linnell’s suite of furniture made for the gallery; the matching chairs can be seen below.
The Marble Fireplace, one of two by Joseph Wilton.
A copy of the NPG painting of Robert Adam, c. 1770-75; attributed to George Willison
The frieze includes marigolds, the symbols of Childs Bank.
The model Chinese Junk is made of Ivory and bone, and comes from Guangzhou, c. 1750
The porcelain pagoda is of a similiar date.
At the conclusion of the curator’s talk, we explored the rest of the house, and what an exploration it was. Our pictures can only give a hint of what it was like, an abundance of magnificent paintings, furniture, rugs…all dazzling to us poor mortals.
Adam’s touch at the doorway of the Drawing room
Ceiling design in the Drawing Room
According to the Guidebook, this ceiling is based on the drawing of the Temple of the Sun in ancient Palmyra, adapted to the rectangular shape of the room.
Boucher’s Tapestries were delivered to the house in 1776 from the Gobelins factory in Paris, though run by a Scot, Adam’s countryman.The four large medallions in the tapestries (two seen above) represent the elements: earth, fire, air, and water.
The tapestry medallion above the fireplace is Cupid and Psyche.
The furniture was built by Linnell and upholstered to match the deep rose background of the tapestries. Similiar tapestries in a drawing room designed by Adam can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where the Tapestry Room from Croome Court in Worcestershire now resides. Read more about this room here. This is the ante-room to the State bedroom, which almost overwhelms the visitor. Imagine what it would be like to try to sleep in this bed.
The State Bed
Ceiling Medallion by Angelica Kauffman, Aglaia, one of the Three Graces being enslaved by Love
The Fire Board, in the Etruscan style
Black and Gold Japanned Commode, probably Chippendale
Pier Glass mirror reflecting the State Bed
Then, to add to the phenomenal variety of decorative motifs, comes the Etruscan Dressing Room, with designs drawn from ancient Etruscan vases discovered in Italy. These designs were eagerly adopted into architectural decor and into popular patterns manufactured by Josiah Wedgwood and others in the mid 18th Century.
The Etruscan Dressing Room
Ceiling of the Etruscan Dressing Room
Fire Screen designed by Adam and embroidered by Mrs. Child
View towards the windows, Etruscan Dressing Room
The crest of the pier-glass is painted to match the medallions on the walls. The japanned commode is another attributed to Chippendale.
The Great Stair
The north side of the house is less dramatic that the south side, where the State rooms are. The library looks exactly like the kind of place we need for our most capable work. What are the chances?
The painting above the mantel is by Antonio Zucchi (1726-95) Virgil reading his works to Augustus and Octavia
Think of the work you could do at this desk! What a joy.
The last room on the north side, formerly known as the Breakfast Room, was under renovation. We found it fascinating to see a work in progress.
In the room were several beautiful pieces of what appeared to me to be valuable oriental-style furniture. No explanation was given for the state of the room or the random placement of these items. Guess I’ll just have to go back and see what happened!!
Well be revisiting the splendours of Osterley Park on Number One London’s 2020 Town and Country House Tour. Complete itinerary and details will be found here.
Click here to read about Victoria’s previous visit and the history of the house.
Leaving the Castle Hotel, Ryde, Victoria and I headed to East Cowes and our next hotel, Albert Cottage, once home to Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s younger daughter. The hotel is set in two acres of beautiful gardens backing onto Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s favourite holiday residence. Directly next to the hotel stands the entrance gate to Osborne House, above, still reserved for the use of the current Royals. The public entrance to Osborne House is further on down the street.
From the hotel website – “Built in the 1840s, probably by Thomas Cubitt – the then leading master builder in London – ‘Albert Cottage’ was bought in 1852 by Prince Albert to be part of a Botanic Garden development of the Osborne House Estate, and was used together with the adjacent Osborne Cottage by Royal guests. In 1899 a covered corridor was constructed to link the two properties and allow easy movement between them without guests having to brave any inclement weather.”
“This corridor now links the main Hotel and Consort Restaurant & Bar area. When Queen Victoria died in 1901, her successor Edward VII kept both cottages for the use of Victoria’s youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice. In 1913 the Princess moved to Carisbrooke Castle and Albert Cottage was sold to Sir Richard Burbidge, philanthropist Managing Director of Harrods. It was again sold in 1924 to The Hon. Elizabeth Storr, widow of Major L.P. Storr DSO, a war hero killed in action in France in 1918. After later neglect it was turned into a hotel in 1999 and now further developed by current owners HTP Apprenticeship College.”
Upon check-in, Vicky and I were given a two bedroom suite. Vicky’s bedroom looked lovely from the doorway . . . .
And enormous from within. It even offered a sitting area with balcony.
My bedroom was just as lovely, and afforded me views of the Gate. A nice touch – our bathroom shower included instructions.
We had the cozy drawing room to ourselves and enjoyed the expansive garden views.
Some of the other guests were a bit stand-offish, below, but the staff were lovely.
In the afternoon, we made our way to Osborne House for the first of our two day visit to the property. Returning to the hotel that evening, we dined in the Prince Consort Restaurant.
Vicky chose the lamb.
I opted for mussels.
And we split the cheese board for dessert.
Once we had completed our tour of Osborne House, the gardens, beach and Swiss Cottage, Vicky and I headed to the historic town of Cowes and began our sightseeing in Shooters Hill.
As the postcard above illustrates, Shooters Hill has been attracting visitors for quite some time, although today it has mostly been pedestrianized.
Once more, we were blessed with blue skies and fine weather.
We spent a leisurely few hours admiring the seafront and nosing around in the wide selection of shops. Eventually, we made our way to the Union Inn, which had been recommended to us by our cab driver as the place to eat in Cowes.
From the Island Eye website: “The Union Inn was possibly built after the act of union between England and Scotland, which took place in the year 1707. The pub was a firm favourite of the navy press gang, who used the pub to enlist many young men into their services when the fleet was at Portsmouth.”
As luck would have it, it was a Sunday. And by now, you should know what that means.
More delicious adventures coming soon!
Would you like to experience travel in England first-hand?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Above, Mother Reading, c. 1629, by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), is one of the most famous paintings in the collection of Wilton House.
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.”
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
In Part Two, we will look at the magnificent interiors of Wilton House.