Monday, September 29, 2014

The Great Country Estates of Britain Series: Blickling Hall Part One

I was going through some of our photos from last year when Peter and I toured the country houses of Norfolk and thought it was finally time I shared some more posts in the Country Estate Series. In this post we are visiting Blickling Hall

Blickling Hall was originally built in the 15th century by Sir John Falstaff Caister, who made a sizable fortune during the 100 years war. It later passed to his neighbour Geoffrey Boleyn in the 1450s (and is purportedly the birth place of his great granddaughter Anne Boleyn).

Above and Below: The front entrance with a lovely little stone bridge complete with heraldic beasts - the Hobart Bulls, over which one crosses to enter by the great hall. Originally it was a bridge over a moat.

Like so many country estates the current house is not that of the Boleyn family. The present house was the construction of Sir Henry Hobart Bart, who purchased the estate for 5,500 pounds. It is thought to have been built in 1616 to a design by Robert Lyminge, who designed Hatfield House. Hobart was Lord Chief Justice to James I; and had a large family (his poor wife gave birth to 12 sons and four daughters)!

Above: Portrait of Sir Henry Hobart by Jan de Critz

Below: Portrait of John Hobart, 2nd Earl, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland by Thomas Gainsborough.

Below: A monument to the second earl's wife.

Inside The grand staircase and great hall.

Above and Below: Jacobean staircase rising from the great hall below, with intricately carved newel figures. There is also a relief of Anne Boleyn in the nice on the landing.

Below: The dining room with the dining table which belonged to the second Earl.

Below: Portrait of Philip Kerr, Lord Lothian who being a confirmed bachelor with no heirs bequeathed the estate to the National Trust under the country houses scheme which he helped set up. His title passed to his cousin.

Above and Below: The Jacobean south drawing room, where Charles II was entertained in 1671.

Above and Below: The Peter the Great Room, named for the tapestry of Peter The Great's defeat of the Swedes in 1709 at the Battle of Poltawa. The chimney-piece is made of Sienna, whilst the chandelier dates to the 1700s. It also contains the Gainsborough portraits of the second Earl and Countess.

Below: One of the bedrooms with a small piano at which the daughters of the second duke took their lessons.

Some objects which I took a liking to: Above a wonderfully carved Jacobean chair. Below: A fanciful painitng of Putti being kept in a cage.

Below: The "O" Room

Above: Chippendale four poster bed dating to 1760 in the Chinese bedroom, with hand painted wallpaper.

Below: The fireplace in the Chinese Bedroom. Note too the carved ivory pagodas and small inlaid cabinet.

Below: The West Turret Bedroom.

The state bedroom with bed made by George Hepplewhite.

Above: The canopy was commissioned by George II and was originally above the second Earl's state chgair at the court of Catherine the Great when he was ambassador to Russia. It was later given to the Earl as a gift.

Above: The Cassone (Dowry Chest) is of the Florentine school and dates to the 15th century.

Below: The gilded tracery of the ceiling.

The gallery, with library, has a very impressive ceiling...

The library contains over 12,500 volumes and manuscripts.

Below: A beautiful boule box I rather fancied.

Above: Pair of firedogs made by Joshua Hart and Sons, eminent metal smiths of their day. They were designed by John Hungerford Pollen, who also designed the rest of the library in the 1860s. The sun and crowns are symbols taken from Lothian family heraldry.

We then took a quick tour around the downstairs areas before heading outside to catch the gardens in what remained of the light late on a beautiful English summer's day.  Here are some photos of the kitchen...

Come back again on Wednesday for a tour of Blickling's gardens

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Grand Salon

Previously known as "The Informal Entertainment Area" (which doesn't roll of the tongue with any elegance) the room between the foyer and the loggia has been renamed The Salon. The name salon comes via the French from the Italian Salone, meaning a large hall or reception room, and was also used to describe a  gathering of fashionable, like-minded people for discussion and entertainment - "to please and to educate".

So I think it is only fitting that the largest reception room of our house which is to used for the gatherings of fashionable people should be named The Salon. Peter and I discussed the pronunciation for a while and decided it had to be Sa'lon as in felon, not as in Ceylon.

Peter, Willoughby and I had previously chosen the carpet for this area (after much searching) only to be told by the manufacturer that there were only 5 metres left in the country and that they had no plans to make any more. Thus, we decided then and there that we had had enough of searching and would continue the marble of the foyer through the salon as well as through all the upstairs common areas. 

This we are sure will prove a practical move, as the salon will be a high traffic area, and it will contain a bar so spills and scuffs will be inevitable. 

The hard flooring may push the ambience of the room away from the cosy entertainment area that we were trying to create towards a cooler, larger feeling, echoing space. We are going to try to keep the room as warm and personable as possible by grouping the furniture around rugs on the floor, leaving the marble exposed for 'foot traffic through routes'. We want it to be the sort of room where a couple could sink into the comfortable arm chairs and have an intimate little conversation in the corner over an evening night cap.

Below: The Classic club-look that we were hoping to achieve with a carpeted space.

We have found some pictures which illustrate how we might try to create a comfortable ambiance in a large marble-floored space. Breaking the room up with furniture and a clever use of inviting textures and colours seems to play an important part...

Above and below: Back to back sofas are a popular way to separate large rooms into separate spaces.

Above and below: Almost all of these rooms seem to have a fireplace in them, which our salon does not. But their stud heights are also much taller than ours (the standard stud height in NZ is 8 feet. Ours is 12 feet. Some of the rooms in these photos have about 16 feet studs).

Above photos from Tumblr and Pinterest
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