A Home of For­tune

Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Susie Kear­ley

For­tunes rose and fell in the lux­u­ri­ous English Ber­ring­ton Hall.


Ber­ring­ton Hall is a Beau­ti­ful stately eng­land, Home in com­plete with Vic­to­rian plea­sure gar­dens, laurel walks,

a walled kitchen gar­den and 456 acres of park­land with stun­ning views. The 16-acre lake is a Site of Spe­cial Sci­en­tific In­ter­est be­cause wild herons have taken up res­i­dence on the is­land.

The manor house was com­mis­sioned by Thomas Har­ley in the late 1770s, and built in the fash­ion­able Neo-clas­si­cal style by ar­chi­tect Henry Hol­land. A banker and govern­ment con­trac­tor, Har­ley as­signed “Ca­pa­bil­ity” Brown to land­scape the park and gar­dens, while his son-in-law, Hol­land, over­saw con­struc­tion of the house.

When Har­ley died, the prop­erty passed to his sec­ond daugh­ter Anne, and her hus­band, Ad­mi­ral Lord Rod­ney. Paint­ings of the Ad­mi­ral’s vic­to­ries hang in the din­ing room. The house fea­tures ex­quis­ite in­te­ri­ors, in­clud­ing a sky­light that il­lu­mi­nates the hall with nat­u­ral light. The rooms are spa­cious with el­e­gant lay­outs, and the dec­o­ra­tive color schemes are sub­tle and un­der­stated.

The Rod­ney fam­ily and their de­scen­dants lived at Ber­ring­ton Hall for the next 95 years, un­til the sev­enth Lord Rod­ney gam­bled away the fam­ily for­tune in the late 19th cen­tury. The con­tents of the home were sold to pay some of his debts, and then the es­tate it­self was sold in 1901 to Fred­er­ick Caw­ley MP, who later be­came Lord Caw­ley.

In 1908, Caw­ley re­dec­o­rated the house and re­placed the dated Vic­to­rian fire grates with more el­e­gant de­signs, while re­spect­ing the orig­i­nal dec­o­ra­tive schemes and en­hanc­ing, rather than re­plac­ing, Hol­land’s orig­i­nal fea­tures.

Dur­ing times of con­flict, the en­trance halls of stately homes were of­ten used as ar­mories.

In 1957, the house was given to the Na­tional Trust in par­tial pay­ment of death du­ties on the es­tate of the sec­ond Lord Caw­ley, who had passed away three years ear­lier. His widow con­tin­ued to live at the house un­til her death in 1978, and in 1966, a ma­jor pro­gram of stonework re­pair took place. Af­ter Lady Caw­ley’s death, the house was left with­out fur­ni­ture, so it was timely that in 1981, the Na­tional Trust was be­queathed a pre­cious col­lec­tion of 18th-cen­tury French fur­ni­ture, clocks and works of art. They re­ceived a home in Ber­ring­ton Hall’s draw­ing room and boudoir, and helped bring the house back to life.


The mar­ble hall is a typ­i­cal 18th-cen­tury en­trance hall, de­signed to im­press im­por­tant vis­i­tors and to make a state­ment about the fam­ily’s wealth. The fam­ily them­selves would nor­mally have used the back door. The Neo-clas­si­cal dec­o­ra­tion in­cludes six plas­ter roundels over the doors, con­tain­ing tro­phies of arms.

Dur­ing times of con­flict, the en­trance halls of stately homes were of­ten used as ar­mories. The arms in the dec­o­ra­tive plas­ter­work harken back to those pe­ri­ods in his­tory. Lord Caw­ley re­dec­o­rated the mar­ble hall in 1908, re­plac­ing a white color scheme with buff and gold on the ceil­ing and a gray­ish green on the walls. The French ta­pes­try dates to 1901.

Also known as the draw­ing room, Thomas Har­ley’s sit­ting room had large win­dows which of­fered good views of the park, and a fine ceil­ing, elab­o­rately dec­o­rated.


The li­brary orig­i­nally housed an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of books be­long­ing to the Rod­ney fam­ily, but they were all sold by the sev­enth Lord Rod­ney to help pay his gam­bling debts. When Fred­er­ick Caw­ley MP moved into the house, he filled the li­brary with books from Heaton Hall in Manch­ester, Eng­land, and used the room as a so­cial place for guests to min­gle be­fore din­ner. It was also used for dances.

The ax­eminster car­pet dates to 1825, but was badly worn, and so sub­ject to con­ser­va­tion work in 2003. Be­fore dances in the li­brary, the stew­ards rolled it back to min­i­mize wear, but de­spite such ef­forts, the degra­da­tion still oc­curred, caused by cor­ro­sive chem­i­cals in the blue dye. Lord Craw­ley pur­chased the 18th­cen­tury chan­de­lier when he con­verted the house to elec­tric­ity.

De­signed in a clas­sic style, the book­cases boast gilt pat­terns that match other parts of the room. The 18th­cen­tury panel over the fire­place de­picts Putti sac­ri­fic­ing to the blind Homer. Other pan­els just be­low the ceil­ing de­pict sto­ries of art and sac­ri­fice.


The din­ing room is the largest room in the house: large enough that the mar­riage cel­e­bra­tions of Har­ley’s two daugh­ters took place here. Paint­ings of Ad­mi­ral Rod­ney’s great­est vic­to­ries hang on the walls. The ser­vants’ route from the kitchen to the din­ing room was long and cir­cuitous, even though the kitchen was di­rectly be­low, so Lord Caw­ley in­stalled a dumb waiter to speed things up. Din­ner started at 7:30pm in din­ner jack­ets and evening wear, and there were typ­i­cally five cour­ses.

The din­ing ta­ble is Vic­to­rian and the foot­stool was for Lady Caw­ley, who had a short stature. The smaller ta­bles at the edge of the room have a ma­hogany and sat­in­wood ve­neer and came with the house when the Caw­leys moved in. The chairs are Por­tuguese, and the re­main­der came from a sale at Heaton Hall in Manch­ester in 1902.


This stun­ning hall fills the mid­dle of the house and shows off some of Hol­land’s most dramatic ar­chi­tec­ture. The de­sign of the hall takes you from the shadow into the light, and was in­spired by the Ital­ian de­signer Pi­ranesi. The bronzed cast-iron balustrade has a ma­hogany handrail. The Aubus­son-fel­letin ta­pes­try was made by Nicholas Lan­cret (1690-1743).


Lady Caw­ley used this comfy sit­ting room to re­lax and watch TV to­ward the end of her life. Un­til the 1970s, it was cov­ered in dark brown wall­pa­per. The cur­rent wall­pa­per, an 18th-cen­tury de­sign, was hung by the Na­tional Trust. The room now com­mem­o­rates the fam­ily

and their life at Ber­ring­ton. On the walls hang fam­ily por­traits and a litho­graph of the house from the early 19th cen­tury. On the man­tel­piece stands a bronze fig­ure of a para­keet. Lady Caw­ley was fond of ex­otic birds and had a pet par­rot of her own.


Also known as the draw­ing room, Thomas Har­ley’s sit­ting room had large win­dows which of­fered good views of the park, and a fine ceil­ing, elab­o­rately dec­o­rated. Dur­ing World War II, it be­came a lounge for nurses who were em­ployed at the con­va­les­cent hospital in the ser­vants’ block. The walls were painted white in 1908, re­plac­ing green wall­pa­per dec­o­rated with white par­rots. The gold framed mir­rors and gar­lands above are orig­i­nal fea­tures of the house, dat­ing back to the 18th cen­tury.


Scago­lia pil­lars make this stair­way and land­ing stun­ning. They have gray mar­ble bases and Corinthian cap­i­tals made from plas­ter. The frieze along the top of the wall fea­tures dol­phins with en­twined tails.

This view of the East front of Ber­ring­ton Hall looks to­wards the arch to the court­yard.

The sat­in­wood bureau and cen­ter ta­ble were be­queathed to the Na­tional Trust. The cast iron grate in the fire­place and dec­o­ra­tive steel sur­round were put in by the sec­ond Lord Caw­ley in 1937; it re­placed a green-tiled Vic­to­rian fire­place.

above. This French fur­ni­ture and works of art come from the El­mar Digby col­lec­tion and com­ple­ment Hol­land’s French-in­spired dec­o­ra­tive scheme. The gilt­wood fur­ni­ture is English, de­signed in the French style. op­po­site. These walls were orig­i­nally flesh col­ored, un­til they were painted sage green in 1908. The door frames, orig­i­nally gold, were painted white at the same time. The mar­ble fire­place was a gift to Har­ley, in­stalled in the early 1800s. The large pic­ture on the right is The Bat­tle of the Saints, 1785, by Thomas Luny.

This ar­range­ment shows the Chip­pen­dale writ­ing desk set with books and fam­ily photos.

Here we see a view of the east­ern front of the house from the court­yard. op­po­site. This statue is a 19th-cen­tury Ital­ian fig­ure cre­ated in alabaster and mar­ble.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.