A Home of Fortune
Fortunes rose and fell in the luxurious English Berrington Hall.
FORTUNES ROSE AND FELL IN THE LUXURIOUS 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
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
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.
THE STAIRCASE HALL
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’S ROOM
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.
THE DRAWING ROOM
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.
FIRST FLOOR LANDING
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.