Harry re­moved some of the fussy Ed­war­dian dec­o­ra­tions that his grand­fa­ther in­tro­duced to the house, and added two lodges, a sta­ble block and a tem­ple to the gar­dens.

Victorian Homes - - A Manor of Speaking -

The Trust let the house to ten­ants, one of whom opened it as a school and white­washed the walls. The school closed in 1980 and the prin­ci­pal rooms were re­dec­o­rated and opened to the public. How­ever, the es­tate re­mained drab, with a ran­dom col­lec­tion of fur­nish­ings.


That was about to change. In 1987, the Na­tional Trust leased the prop­erty to Alec Cobbe, who had worked for the Trust on other restora­tion projects, and owned an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of paint­ings and key­board in­stru­ments. He led the re­fur­bish­ment of the house, en­hanc­ing its best fea­tures. The re­sult is stun­ning.

As a young man, Alec stud­ied medicine at Ox­ford, and af­ter a pe­riod work­ing in a Lon­don hos­pi­tal, he re­turned to his child­hood loves of paint­ing and mu­sic. In­side the house today is the Cobbe col­lec­tion, com­pris­ing 42 his­toric key­board in­stru­ments, 12 of which have links to fa­mous com­posers, in­clud­ing Mozart, Pur­cell, Beethoven, Mahler, Chopin, Liszt, El­gar and Bach. It in­cludes harp­si­chords and pi­anofortes from 1750 to 1840, in­clud­ing an Erard pi­anoforte be­long­ing to Marie An­toinette.

The gar­den hall was once the main en­trance to the house, and it’s the vis­i­tor en­trance today. It’s the work of ar­chi­tect Joseph Bonomi, who was com­mis­sioned to re­design the orig­i­nal hall around 1800. Af­ter a pe­riod of ne­glect, Alec re­turned the gar­den hall to this de­sign by 1987. The benches un­der the re­cessed arch­way are by Bonomi. The dec­o­ra­tive scheme is si­enna mar­ble and blue.

The saloon was one of the first rooms Alec tack­led when he moved into the house, and he com­pleted it in 1988. He hung its walls with red damask and then dec­o­rated them with rows of pre­cious paint­ings in gilt frames. He re­tained Adam’s orig­i­nal plas­ter­work, with gilded dol­phins, and painted the freeze a deep blue.

The cary­atid mar­ble chim­ney­p­iece is sim­i­lar to those Adam cre­ated for other stately homes. Lord Ren­del ap­plied the gild­ing in 1890. The harp­si­chord in the room was made by An­dreas Ruck­ers in 1636. It un­der­went “revale­ment” by Henri Hem­sch in 1763: a process of en­large­ment and adding more notes. The paint de­picts the im­age of a Flem­ish land­scape and was once owned by the Savoy fam­ily.

left. This statue is the Dis­cobo­lus of My­ron, a Greek sculp­ture dat­ing to around 450 B.C. The orig­i­nal sculp­ture was lost, but nu­mer­ous copies ex­ist, in­clud­ing this one, com­mis­sioned for the gar­den hall by Lord Ren­del in the 1890s. left bot­tom. The clock in the saloon is a Louis XV Boulle clock. It’s an or­mdu-mounted clock, cre­ated by Mes­nil of Paris in 1715. It sits in a glazed car­touche-shaped case and dec­o­rated with leaf-like mo­tifs. The clock is not cur­rently work­ing. op­po­site. The sil­ver-plated cen­ter­piece is a 19th cen­tury cre­ation by Pierre Jules Mene from Paris, de­pict­ing the fig­ure of a tree with two grey­hounds at the base. It matches the can­de­labra and would of­ten have sup­ported a cut glass bowl.

The 18th cen­tury clock in the saloon is one of many or­na­men­tal pieces. The room is highly dec­o­rated with stat­ues, bronzes, fine art and vases. The box in front of the clock con­tains 19th cen­tury plas­ter minia­tures be­long­ing to Mr. Cobbe. The bronze sculp­ture is 18th cen­tury French, and de­picts the god­dess Venus. The lamp is bronze and brass and one of a set of eight Floren­tine-style bronze colza oil lamp stan­dards. Three bronze heron fig­ures stand be­low the lights.


Orig­i­nally de­signed as a draw­ing room, this space was used as a library. Most of the book­cases date from the mid-18th cen­tury. The por­trait over the fire­place de­picts Mrs. Cobbe’s an­ces­tor, Bar­bara Duchess of Cleve­land, the fa­mous mis­tress of King Charles II and the mother of six of his chil­dren.

The din­ing room was orig­i­nally split in two, cre­at­ing Ad­mi­ral Boscawen’s bed­room and a smaller dress­ing room. Lord Ren­del turned the two rooms into one larger din­ing room in 1890. Ten­ants later used it as a school room with very plain decor. Alec Cobbe cre­ated the cur­rent dec­o­ra­tive ef­fects based on late 18th cen­tury arabesque fash­ions. He changed the cof­fee gray decor to white and gold, adding painted de­tails based on a 1789 de­sign at Carl­ton House in Lon­don by the French artist, Gi­rard.

The vir­ginal be­side the fire­place was made by John Player Lon­don in 1664, and prob­a­bly came from the court of King Charles II at White­hall Palace. It’s a unique ex­am­ple from King Charles II’S royal house­hold. Ap­prox­i­mately 24 English vir­ginals sur­vive today. They use a sim­i­lar pluck­ing method

The Saxon clavi­chord in the cen­ter of the library is very rare. It was a fa­vorite in­stru­ment of Jo­hann Se­bas­tian Bach, and al­though this par­tic­u­lar in­stru­ment was made af­ter his death, it’s one of only a few sur­viv­ing ex­am­ples of its kind.

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