Friday, 5 August 2011

1. the 'Princess' tower
2. the entrace hall stand complete with his hat, coat and hangers
3. a parcel in the library, I love the basic wrapping
4. silk brocade covers in the library to protect the shattered silk underneath
5. Liberty print sofa in Mrs Gibbs lounge
6. the mint painted kitchens still full or bottles, crockery and general stuff
7. The matching walk in safe
8. The many bells for the many staff in the kitchen hall way
9. An early Mrs Gibbs, I think Matilda who died early
10. The sunflower wallpaper in the dining room. All the cream is hand painted.
11. Lord Wraxalls bedroom, the old curtains and toy soldiers
12. The incredible gleeming alter in the chapel
13. The pink, darkened drawing room with grand chandeliers
14. Mrs Gibbs room of her own with worn chair

We recently took a trip to one of our local country houses for a little research for the Princess collection. This is Tyntesfield house near Bristol and quite an incredible place. The National Trust managed to buy the house and the contents a few years ago and it is just how it was left. The house was owned by a Lord Wraxall, a bachelor and the Gibbs family had a very interesting rise and decline story until his death in 2001.
The place is a magnificent Gothic country house, very grand with so many rooms still not opened.

What was really fascinating was the fact that everything was a little worn, this once incredibly wealthy household was last decorated in the 1920s. The beautiful Liberty covered sofas had holes in, the TV that was left was a big 80s wood veneer model, the owner slept in a single bed, in the bedroom he had used since a child still with drawings of toy soldiers on the walls. Towards the end, Lord Wraxall (an eccentric, interesting character according to my father who had met with him a few times to discuss farm machinery) lived on his own in the house with no live in staff.
This massive house must have been so empty and maybe lonely? Little details like the hand written card telephone number list is still in the kitchens next to the phone he used, there's also a microwave which looks so out of place in these vast ground floor kitchens and pantries and large walk in safe the size of a banks . He still ate breakfast in the ginormous dining room, alone, which in contrast has sunflower wallpaper that his predecessors ordered to have all the red background hand painted cream. The house was the first in the area to get electricity and the whole house has wired bells and this fabulous billiard table that was wired to a score board all carved in wood with pipe heating underneath to make the balls run smoothly.
It's excessive luxury in it's decline, very honest and real and quite lovely but a little bit sad. The reality of what it costs to maintain these high Royal like standards and how this old money way is also frugal and has the same struggles at many 'normal' lives.
My photos are mainly of details of fabrics and images, but the whole house and huge grounds are well worth a day trip with a picnic. The gardens are stunning, the High Church Chapel is beautiful with its glistening mosaics and gold crosses and the kitchen gardens with the soon to open Orangery is a gorgeous retreat. For more information on Tyntesfield go the to National Trust Here