Wow, what a fun week! I have so enjoyed sharing with you my favorite pieces of Baker Furniture’s Stately Homes collection and the stately homes where these pieces originated. No one correctly guessed my clue today about the home of my grandfather in Northern Ireland. He came from Newtonards in County Downs! But I am going to award the book to Vicky Smathers, who was a very close runner up on yesterday’s clue! So thanks Vicky for your continued participation in the Stately Homes clues!
And I have saved the best until last! Both the pieces and the destination. Today we travel to the beautiful “Emerald Isle” home of my maternal grandfather. Our first stately home is Crom Castle in County Fermanagh, in Northern Ireland. Set in rolling parkland , Crom Castle is the historic seat of the Earls of Erne for over 350 years. It enjoys an unrivaled location in the heart of Ireland’s Lake District.
The collections of the finest furniture and paintings, acquired in each successive generation, followed as automatic for a powerful family who only wanted the best. Crom Castle was rebuilt overlooking the great lakes of County Fermanagh by Royal architect Blore, famous for his Houses of Parliament in London and Russia. The castle has all the spires and roof-scape splendor of architect Blore’s most creative imagination!
Crom Castle is setting for PG Wodehouse’s 1929 BBC period comedy drama, Blandings. The Victorian Conservatory at Crom Castle is one of the most spectular in Ireland! Leading off the West Wing, it rises into the sky like a crystal cathedral and covers over 2000 square feet. It appears to be a very covedted venue for weddings!
My tablescape at the High Point Baker showroom had an exquisite table surrounded by Chinese Chippendale chairs. These chairs were from Crom Castle, English, circa 1760. The side chairs are carved and pierced with an unusual chinoiserie geometric pattern, a very comfortable upholstered seat frame surrounded with mahogany borders on square, moulded and chamfered legs, united with an H-shaped stretcher. These chairs were perfectly beautiful for dinner with Mr. Churchill!
And the table in this space…as I said, I have saved the best until last! There is just no question that this William IV mahogany Capstan dining table, with its sectioned swirl mahogany top with fluted frieze is simply as “stately” as it gets! This table extends with eight additional stripe mahogany leaves, by a mechanical turning action, and has a massive fluted central baluster, supported by four curved and fluted legs terminating in fine cast and gilded brass toes. Oh what a beauty and certainly the
“piece de resistance” in this Stately Homes collection. Wouldn’t this be a suitable foundation for a “collected room”!!
To try to understand the provenance of this piece, we are going to head south to Dublin to The Guinness Family. The Guinness Family is famous for their Irishness, especially their brewing, their banking, and of course their great “Book of Records”. They also have acquired, over the last two hundred years, the most amazing array of great houses, great art collections and even noble titles. An Irish quality remains constant in all they achieve, and their early 19th century brewing facility, in the heart of Dublin, is one of the City’s most loved visits. The romantic river Liffey runs near by, allededly the secret ingredient to their historic brew!
The exact provenance of this piece will remain somewhat of a mystery for us, as that seems to be an unknown detail. Ashford Castle, which dates back to 1228 was once owned by the Guiness family. It was converted into a hotel in the early 1900’s and it is also home to Ireland oldest factory. Perhaps there is history here?!?
After a brew in Dublin, I have decided we will jet back to England for just one more tiny stop. My back and feet are tired and I can’t image a more perfect chair for a little rest than this wing chair. This chairs provenance is from Clivenden Place in Oxfordshire, England, home to The right Honourable Nancy Viscountess Astor.
This lovely , and comfortable wing chair is early Irish – circa 1700- , mahogany, with a high arched back with upholstered wings and scrolling arms and has bold turned cannon ball motif legs, united by baluster shaped stretchers. I just adore the “martini arms”!
The Grandmother to the present Viscount Astor, Nancy, Viscountess Astor, was born a Virginian, Nancy Langhorne, who married Waldorf Astor, later the Viscount Astor. Nancy stood for Parliament and became the first woman Member of Parliament. She led the successful movement to win Equal Rights for Women, while presiding over what became known as the famous “Cliveden set”. The legendary Astors rapidly established themselves as patrons and collectors of art and of great furniture.
The lovely gardens at Cliveden Place are well worth a visit. Today, Cliveden is owned by the National Trust and is leased as a wonderful five-star hotel. Certainly a lovely place to visit!
I am so grateful that the Baker showroom in High Point placed me in The Stately Homes area for my tabletop talk and book signing. And how fun it has been to examine pieces of this collection and the stately homes associated with these pieces! Thanks to all of you for coming along on this little journey this week. Have a wonderful, restful weekend!