Re­stored and Re­s­plen­dent


Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Susie Kear­ley

This beau­ti­ful Ja­cobean home boasts ren­o­vated Vic­to­rian in­te­ri­ors and a visit from Char­lotte Bronte.

Gawthorpe Hall is a beau­ti­ful coun­try home in Lan­cashire, Eng­land, full of glo­ri­ous an­tiques, elab­o­rate ceil­ings and or­nate dec­o­ra­tive schemes. When the Vic­to­rian nov­el­ist Char­lotte Bronte vis­ited Gawthorpe in 1850, she de­scribed it as "a model of old English ar­chi­tec­ture.”

The Hall was built be­tween 1600 and 1605 by Rev­erend Lawrence Shut­tle­worth, who in­her­ited the es­tate from his fam­ily. He em­ployed ar­chi­tect Robert Smyth­son to over­see its construction. Gen­er­a­tions of the Shut­tle­worth fam­ily lived at Gawthorpe Hall over the next 400 years, en­ter­tain­ing guests and en­joy­ing the beau­ti­ful house and ex­ten­sive grounds. But as time passed, some parts of the house fell into dis­re­pair.

In 1850, Sir James Kay-shut­tle­worth car­ried out ma­jor restora­tion works and im­prove­ments to the hall, em­ploy­ing ar­chi­tect Sir Charles Barry to give it an El­iz­a­bethan ap­pear­ance. The stair­case tower was ex­tended with open­work para­pets, while the in­te­rior was im­proved with rich fur­nish­ings. A for­mal El­iz­a­bethan gar­den was cre­ated out­side.

Sir James was a so­cial ac­tivist, driv­ing re­forms to the poor law and try­ing to im­prove ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion. He laid the foun­da­tion for a pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and was awarded the ti­tle Baron Shut­tle­worth of Gawthorpe for his pub­lic ser­vice. In 1851, he wrote, “My house im­prove­ments will I think make‘old Giggy’ wear a new face—barry and I are rather os­ten­ta­tious when we set to work.”

Shut­tle­worth de­scen­dants con­tin­ued to live in the house un­til the sons were all killed in ac­tion in the First and Se­cond World Wars. In 1942, the ti­tle passed to a cousin, Charles, the fourth Lord Shut­tle­worth, who had se­vere in­juries and paral­y­sis from the war, but he’d sur­vived

In 1850, Sir James Kay-shut­tle­worth car­ried out ma­jor restora­tion works and im­prove­ments to the Hall.

the ex­pe­ri­ence. How­ever, he found Gawthorpe Hall was im­prac­ti­cal for a dis­abled owner, so in 1970 he gave the es­tate to the Na­tional Trust, with a 99-year lease to Lan­cashire County Coun­cil. His aunt, Rachel Kay-shut­tle­worth, had col­lec­tions of em­broi­dery, lace and cos­tumes, and she hoped the house could be used as a ‘craft house’ for tex­tile crafts and learn­ing. In ac­cor­dance with her wishes, the house is now open to the pub­lic and is used for ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses too.


In 1851, a stud­ded oak door went into the porch, as well as a window over­head. The 17th cen­tury col­umns were placed onto plinths so the height of the whole porch could be raised.


The floor tiles in the en­trance hall were sup­plied in 1851 by Min­ton of Stoke-on-trent. The black mar­ble bor­ders were cre­ated by Knowles mar­ble works in Manch­ester. They were ready-cut and cost 2 shillings and 6 old pence per foot. The oak screen, an early 17th cen­tury cre­ation, had high door­ways so ac­tors per­form­ing on a low tres­tle stage in the next room could eas­ily pass through.


The din­ing room was used as the great hall in the 17th cen­tury. Par­ties were held there, as well as the­atri­cal per­for­mances and so­cial gath­er­ings. In 1816, it turned into a din­ing room, and King Ge­orge V and his wife Queen Mary dined there.

The room was re­stored in the 1850s along with the gallery, which was at risk of col­lapse and be­ing held up by wooden pil­lars. Side­boards were added for buf­fets, and new mir­ror pan­els were cut from an 18th cen­tury mir­ror taken from the draw­ing room.

The chim­ney­p­iece, dat­ing to 1851, re­placed a larger 17th cen­tury fire­place.

Above it is the coat of arms of Sir James Kay-shut­tle­worth, flanked by other fam­ily shields. The cast-iron grate dates to 1852 and the tiles date to 1880; they prob­a­bly re­placed ear­lier heat-dam­aged tiles.

The red flock wall­pa­per by G.J. Crace is called the Rut­land; the de­sign dates to 1852. The orig­i­nal wall­pa­per didn't match at the join, but stayed in place for more than 100 years. In 1987, replica wall­pa­per was made for the room, us­ing the orig­i­nal Rut­land blocks. This time, the pat­tern and color matched where the rolls of pa­per joined. The cur­tains have been re­con­structed from Pu­gin's 1844 orig­i­nals, which were in­spired by the silk vel­vets used to cover church al­tars.

The oak ta­ble and chairs were made by Gil­lows of Lan­caster in 1881. The de­sign of the chairs is based on two orig­i­nal 17th cen­tury chairs; all of them have been re­cov­ered in mo­hair vel­vet.

Robert Shut­tle­worth or­dered a sixbranch oil lamp for this room in 1817. The lamp was made by James Deville from Lon­don, and crafted im­ages of shells, fo­liage and a bronze ea­gle into the de­sign. The lamp burned oil, grav­ity-fed from a reser­voir above. The car­pet is mid-19th cen­tury and comes from Iran.


This room, pre­vi­ously known as the dyninge cham­ber, be­came the draw­ing room in 1816. Nov­el­ist Char­lotte Bronte vis­ited in 1850 and en­joyed so­cial­iz­ing be­side the fire.

The oak wall pan­els are Ja­cobean and it took three join­ers a year to com­plete the work in 1604. The frieze de­picts fruit­ing plants, vines and branches, and the or­nate plas­ter­work con­tin­ues across the ceil­ing. It’s the work of Fran­cis and Thomas Gunby, who spent five months on it in 1605.

The cast-iron fire grate was de­signed by Pu­gin. The green cur­tains are repli­cas of Crace’s Vic­to­rian de­sign—a silk and linen fab­ric with im­ages of ex­otic fruits, in­clud­ing pomegranates and pineap­ples. The car­pet is a re­place­ment, which em­u­lates the style of the orig­i­nal blue and red Ziegler Ma­hal car­pet. The Vene­tian glass chan­de­lier is one of a pair dat­ing to 1890. It was pur­chased on one of Lady Shut­tle­worth’s vis­its to Italy.

The oc­tag­o­nal burr-wal­nut ta­ble was de­signed by Pu­gin and cre­ated by Crace. It has an in­laid bor­der of holly leaves and is on a tres­tle base made of oak.

The so­fas are a but­toned vel­vet de­sign with deep fringes. The cov­ers faded over time, so one has been re­cov­ered to show the orig­i­nal shade of the ma­te­rial. Wal­nut chairs in­laid with mar­quetry are scat­tered around the edge of the room. They were bought from an an­tiques dealer in 1851.

The carved oak chairs to the right of the pic­ture were made by Sa­muel Luke Pratt, a Lon­don an­tiques dealer. The small chair is a Baroque ma­hogany child’s chair—a Vic­to­rian re­pro­duc­tion of an ear­lier style.


Cre­ated by Charles Barry in the early 1850s, this sand­stone stair­case pos­sesses an oak balustrade. It’s three sto­ries high and re­placed an ear­lier neo­clas­si­cal stair­case. The pan­els were orig­i­nally in­tended to be linen fold, but less ex­pen­sive plain pan­els were even­tu­ally adopted, with peg-top balus­ters.


The long gallery is 21 me­ters in length and takes up the en­tire south front of the house on the se­cond floor. It was dec­o­rated in the 1850s. The fret­work ceil­ing dates to 1603 and was cre­ated by Thomas and Fran­cis Gunby.

It was the year James I be­came King, and his coat of arms hangs above the fire­place. The fire grate dates to the 1850s and the tiles, thought to be by Wil­liam De Mor­gan, date to about 1890.

Pu­gin de­signed the rich flock wall­pa­per, which was in­spired by Ital­ian Re­nais­sance bro­cades. It would have sparkled in the can­dle­light. The orig­i­nal wall­pa­per was de­stroyed but the de­sign was recre­ated from small sam­ples and re­hung.

The oak fur­ni­ture came from an­tiques dealers. The El­iz­a­bethan court cup­board is a stack of three un­re­lated cup­boards, put to­gether and made to look like a sin­gle piece of fur­ni­ture by spe­cial­ist crafts­man­ship and carv­ing. The Charles II chairs were also made up of parts, but are good qual­ity fur­ni­ture.


This is the most elab­o­rate bed­room, named af­ter Hun­troyde, the neigh­bor­ing es­tate. The frieze plas­ter­work and ceil­ing dates to 1604 and was cre­ated by the Gunby part­ner­ship. The wall­pa­per is a replica of Lily Rose by Pre-raphaelite artist Wal­ter Crane, pro­duced in 1894 by Jef­frey and Co.

Rachel Kay-shut­tle­worth em­broi­dered the Tree of Life cur­tains around the bed and valances. Her work was in­spired by some of the Ja­cobean art­work at Gawthrope and took years to com­plete.

The por­traits come from the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery. One painted in about 1690 de­picts Daniel Pur­cell, the fa­mous com­poser. The other is a mid-17th cen­tury por­trait of El­iz­a­beth, Princess Pala­tine, sis­ter of Charles I. The frame is made of papier mache cov­ered in gilt.


Vic­to­rian kitchens were of­ten hot and busy places. The ser­vants would each have their own dis­tinct roles, and the food would be sent up­stairs in the dumb­waiter—a type of small el­e­va­tor built into the walls. This would get food up­stairs quickly while it was still pip­ing hot. Once it ar­rived, the serv­ing staff would be wait­ing to serve it to din­ner guests.

Above right. This is Charles Barry's stair­case with oak pan­el­ing. The iron light fit­ting, thought to be 19th cen­tury, casts a warm glow over the stair­case in the evenings. right. The south front of Gawthorpe Hall. The stair­case tower has chim­ney stacks...

Above. This view of the en­trance hall shows the oak pan­el­ing and the carved screen. op­po­site. The din­ing room cur­tains are wool and silk bro­cade, cre­ated by Pu­gin and Crace in 1844.

The draw­ing room was de­signed for re­lax­ation and en­ter­tain­ment. The walls are oak pan­eled with plas­ter­work friezes. In the fore­ground stands the in­laid wal­nut and rose­wood teapoy de­signed by Pu­gin in 1850.

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