Thursday, December 31, 2009


A colonnade is the term for a long sequence of columns joined by their entablature, often free-standing, as in Bernini's famous curving colonnade at the piazza outside St. Peter's basillica in Rome (below).

A colonnade of single columns is termed a screen. When in front of a building, screening the door (Latin porta), it is called a portico. When enclosing an open court it is known as a peristyle.

Below: A single colonnade (screen) at Versailles

Built from 1685 on by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the Colonnade at Versailles replaced a grove designed by Le Nôtre in 1679 (the Springs Grove). A peristyle accompanies the 32 marble columns. The triangular tympani between the arcades are decorated with low relief carvings depicting children. The arch stones are adorned with heads of nymphs and naiads. The famous group in the centre on a circular marble base was executed between 1678 and 1699 by Girardon: Proserpine Ravished by Pluto.

The colonnades at Stowe house:

Colonnades at Blenheim Palace

The colonnades at Russborough Hall

Above: a good example of a modern (and stunningly lit) colonnade
borrowed from The Laurel Hedge

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Billiard Room...

Across the foyer from the blue Wedgwood Room will be the Billiard Room. This room will be decorated in tones of green, with wooden paneling on the walls. It will have a masculine feel to it, possibly with reference to hunting and shooting; and some of the upholstery will incorporate our tartan (we have an estate in the Scottish highlands near Fort William, and take our tartan from the local region, as opposed to using a clan tartan).

The Lochaber Tartan:

The Origin of Billiards

(an extract taken from Norman Clare's notes, Liverpool)

A form of billiards played on the ground in the 1300's.

Taken from Strutts 'The Sports and pastimes of the people of England'

The origin of the game of Billiards is obscure, although many efforts have been made to trace its history, always without success. One thing, however, is absolutely definite, it is an extremely old game which has gradually developed so that the present day game is completely unrecognisable from the original.

It is said that a game similar to Billiards was seen by a traveller called Anacharsis in Ancient Greece some 400 years BC. There is proof that Billiards was played during the reign of Elizabeth I as Shakespeare in the play 'Anthony & Cleopatra' has the Queen say to her maid – 'come Charmain, let us to Billiards.

The game was originally played on the ground outdoors and it is related to the game of croquet. This theory is supported by early illustrations and pictures, showing hoops and a post (similar to croquet) on the surface of the Billiards Table.

Louis XIV at Billiards in 1694; The King is 'playing the ball'.

You can clearly see the similarities between the etching of 'Billiards on the Ground' and the on showing Louis XVI playing Billiards. Even the maces (used to propel the balls) are similar in shape along with the the hoop and pin

One story explaining how the game came to be called 'Billiards' relates to a pawnbroker by the name of William Kew, who, after closing his shop, would take down the three brass balls of his sign and used them to play in the yard behind his shop . His friends used to join him, saying they were going to play in Bill's Yard.

When the game was first brought indoors and raised to table height, a plain wooden rim without any form of cushioning surrounded the table to prevent the balls falling on the floor. The tables were of lightweight construction. Maces (an early form of Cue) were used to propel the balls. The balls themselves were also originally made of wood. There were no properly established rules and the dimensions of the Billiards Table itself, the size of the balls and the pocket openings etc., all varied.

Hopefully the finished room will be a cross between something like the above, a traditional and muted masculine room, and the billiard room below, which although it incorporates the tartan in the carpet, is perhaps a little to bold to be a relaxing room.

Some more nice Pool Tables...

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Wedgwood Card Room...

The card room adjacent to the formal dining room is going to be used to display our Wedgewood collection. It will be painted the same traditional colours of the Wedgewood plates, and like the plates we will make much of the plaster decoration on the blue backdrop...

Above: A Wedgwood ceiling panel in Dublin.

Above and below: Examples of plaster work with a Wedgwoodesque style. I love the fireplace above and it is going to be replicated in the room.

Above and Below: Other room ideas in similar shades of blue. We will use sconces and plastered niches to display our Wedgwood pieces.

Below: an antique card table of the type which will be centered in the room. Over it will be a chandelier hanging from an ornately plastered dome, such as the ceiling panel above.

Josiah Wedgwood (below), the founder of the famous pottery, started his career as an apprentice to Thomas Whieldon. In 1759 he leased Ivy House in Burslem from relative, which allowed him to start his own pottery business.
In 1765, Wedgwood created a new earthenware form which impressed Queen Charlotte (the wife of George III) enough to give him a royal warrant and permission to call it "Queen's Ware". In 1766 Wedgwood bought Etruria, a large estate in Staffordshire. It served both as a home and as a pottery site.
Wedgwood developed a number of industrial innovations for his company, notably a pyrometer (away of measuring kiln temperatures accurately), and new ware types Black Basalt and Jasper Ware - the familiar style of white decoration on darker matte pottery styled above. The first background colour was the the popular Poland Blue, which I still think is the most attractive. In total Wedgwood experimented with more than 3,000 colour samples.
The main decorative themes found in Wedgewood's jasper ware were taken from ancient mythology (Roman, Greek and Egyptian). This complimented well the architectural styles of neoclassiciasm and the Georgian decorative styles (as such it will compliment Willowbrook Park well too!).

Above: A fine example of a Jasperware urn.
Below: Jasperware panels beautifully incorporated into ormulu regency furniture.
Wedgwood had increasing success with hard paste porcelain attempting to imitate the whiteness of Chineese porcelain. The high transportation costs and the vigorous long journey from the Far East meant that the supply of china could not keep up with the increasingly high demand. In 1812 Wedgwood produced their own bone china. Though not a commercial success at first, Wedgwood's English Fine Bone China eventually became an important part of an extremely profitable business.
The company merged with Waterford in 1987. The joint company was placed under administration last year due to the financial crisis. Now many of the lines have been deleted and much of the pottery is to be made in asia.
Other rooms where Wedgewood has obviously been an inspiration...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Palladian Side Buildings...

Palladianism was a movement in architecture based on the writings and work of Andreas Palladio, an Italian architect of the 16th century who tried to recreate the style and proportions of the buildings of ancient Rome.

Palladio himself was heavily influenced by the Roman architect, Vitruvius. And while not all of his ideas were true to the ancient ideals he was trying to imitate (due to working from ruins and partial documents), still his ideas and philosophy were widely imitated throughout Europe, and particularly in England during the 18th century.

The Englishman who popularised the Palladian style was Inigo Jones, Surveyor-General under James I. Jones was responsible for several very early classical buildings, notably Queen's House, Greenwich, and the Banqueting House at Whitehall. In many ways Jones was ahead of his time, for it was not until well into the 18th century that adherence to the classical ideals of Palladio became widespread in England.

Grace, understated decorative elements, and use of classical orders. are all hallmarks of the English Palladian style. At its most rigid, Palladianism simply copied designs made popular in Italy by Palladio. Richard Boyle, Lord Burlington (1694-1753), the foremost patron of the arts during the mid-18th century, was responsible for the success of Palladianism and the classical style in general. Burlington was an immensely influential amateur architect. He also supported men such as Colen Campbell, who was responsible for Burlington's Chiswick House, London (1725-29), and William Kent, who was responsible for the interior decoration at Burlington House. Burlington himself took a hand in the design of Chiswick House (below) and the Assembly Rooms at York.

One particular feature of the English Palladian style which I like, admire for it's practicality and which we are adapting to Willowbrook Park, are the use of side pavilions of buildings in order to enlarge a house without altering the design of the main building. They are usually attached by a classical colonnade, and are usually symmetrical in design and composition. We are going to tweak this idea slightly and have the Stables block and the Chapel form the side pavilions, attached to the main house via colonnades. And although the physical siting of the side buildings and colonnades will be perfectly symmetrical, the style of each building itself will be idiosyncratic to its function. This is in keeping with the English tradition of inheriting the family estate through successive generations and then building additional wings and out buildings in the contemporary style of each generation. It is a composite style which is fairly English when it comes to estates.

Above and below: Examples of how curved colonnades can be used to link side buildings whilst giving a depth to the overall form.

Below: The famous Palladian bridge over the river Nadder, Wilton house, Wiltshire (copied by the bridge at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire - below again).

The Palladian bridge at Stowe is a copy of the bridge at Wilton House. The main difference is that the Stowe version is designed to be used by horse drawn carriages so is set lower with shallow ramps instead of steps on the approach. Above the flanking arches there are pavilions with arches on all four sides, these have engaged columns on their flanks and ends of the same order as the colonnade which in turn support pediments, the roof is of slate, with an elaborate plaster ceiling. It was completed in 1738. There is also a copy of the Wilton Palladian bridge at Prior Park in Bath. A very popular bridge it would seem.

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