An In­tel­lec­tual Im­pres­sion


Victorian Homes - - King's Lord Chamberlain -

Large or­nate book­cases were all the rage in the Vic­to­rian era. Of course, they had books that looked stun­ning too, with match­ing spines and col­ors in mul­ti­ple vol­umes, which gave the im­pres­sion that the own­ers were well-read and knowl­edge­able. While many Vic­to­rian barons were keen read­ers, some had large li­braries—just for show. These gen­tle­men liked to give the im­pres­sion of a stu­dious life­style, but didn’t ac­tu­ally read much, pre­fer­ring to spend their time trav­el­ing, col­lect­ing trea­sures, throw­ing par­ties, feast­ing and en­ter­tain­ing friends.

Cre­at­ing a per­fect home library today de­pends some­what on per­sonal taste.

If you want the beau­ti­ful open book­cases that were pop­u­lar in Vic­to­rian times, look for or­nate oak or pe­riod ma­hogany book­cases, per­haps with glass doors to keep dust out. If you pre­fer to hide the bright col­ors of modern books, then a panel of or­ganza, or a voile cur­tain, in­side a glass case can give your library a more clas­si­cal feel. Choose French or Ital­ian style fur­ni­ture for your library and con­sider a pe­riod lamp or two to bring a cer­tain am­bi­ence to the room. Avoid modern ma­hogany fur­ni­ture, as it’s usu­ally sourced from threat­ened rain­forests; au­then­tic pe­riod fur­ni­ture is more pleas­ing.

above. This is an archival pic­ture of the din­ing room at The Vyne, when it was lo­cated in the cur­rent saloon. The pair of mar­ble-topped ta­bles against the walls are English and date to 1730. They have wal­nut frames. op­po­site. The chapel par­lor was a place to re­lax and re­flect.

Wiggett bought the plas­ter busts over the book­cases for £14 in 1845. They por­tray the im­ages of fa­mous writers, in­clud­ing Cicero, Dryden, Prior, Locke, Homer, Shake­speare, Mil­ton, Gold­smith and John­son. They were a pop­u­lar fea­ture in li­braries at this time. The globes date to 1818 and the chairs date to 1870, but both have a 17th cen­tury style.

Two rooms once oc­cu­pied the space now known as the chapel par­lor. The Tu­dor pan­el­ing was an ad­di­tion af­ter the new room was cre­ated. The light col­ored fur­ni­ture, prob­a­bly from the 19th cen­tury, cre­ates a com­fort­able coun­try house feel. Ser­vants would have served tea in this room, which the ladies of the house used for quiet re­lax­ation and in­ti­mate con­ver­sa­tions.

The Tu­dor chapel is ma­jes­tic, with beau­ti­fully carved stalls that are among the last of their kind. The mar­ble tiles sit next to col­or­ful 16th cen­tury glazed tiles in bright col­ors, in­clud­ing lemon, blue, or­ange and green, and de­pict an­i­mals, birds, fruit and fo­liage. The stained glass win­dows de­pict the pas­sion of Christ, the young Henry VIII, Queen Cather­ine of Aragon and Queen Mar­garet of Scot­land, King Henry VIII’S sis­ter.


In 1804, the orig­i­nal prints in the print room were glued to the walls—a dec­o­ra­tive idea that was fash­ion­able at the time. The im­ages had pre­vi­ously been kept as a port­fo­lio in the gallery. The de­ci­sion to glue them to the walls came at a cost: sun­light com­bined with gen­eral wear and tear meant that by 1959, the prints were ru­ined. They had de­te­ri­o­rated be­yond repair. As part of the restora­tion prints from the Liecht­en­stein Col­lec­tion re­placed the orig­i­nals in 1959, and the walls were re­painted at the same time. Most of the im­ages on dis­play in the print room today are from 17th and 18th cen­tury Ital­ian and French artists.

The stair­case hall would once have been part of a grand open hall with a cen­tral stair­case. The cur­rent stair­case was a re­place­ment, con­structed be­tween 1769 and 1771 by John Chute. The To­pog­ra­pher in 1789 de­scribed it as a “Gre­cian theatric stair­case.” Wooden floor­boards re­placed the orig­i­nal stone floor and the cur­rent dec­o­ra­tive scheme dates to 1960.


Wil­liam Sandys in­stalled the pan­el­ing in the oak gallery. Even then, it was am­bi­tious, for long gal­leries were more of­ten hung with painted cloth or ta­pes­tries. Each panel de­picts the em­blem of a Tu­dor celebrity: kings, queens, lords and ladies. In the 17th cen­tury, the win­dow spa­ces be­came nar­rower and more win­dows were in­stalled; the pan­el­ing was mod­i­fied to ac­com­mo­date this. Portraits of im­por­tant politi­cians, aris­to­crats and countesses hang in the gallery. Busts of Ro­man em­per­ors, kings and queens are now on dis­play. The room would have been used to en­ter­tain guests, re­ceive pe­ti­tions and deal with busi­ness.

The beau­ti­fully carved, or­nate chim­ney­p­iece in the tapestry room was orig­i­nally in the din­ing par­lor, but moved in 1842, and the wood­work on the ceil­ing came from the old school room. The ta­pes­tries, which draw on Per­sian and In­dian im­agery, are wool and silk cre­ations from Eng­land around 1720. They were re­duced in size to fit the room when they moved into this room in the mid19th cen­tury. The fur­ni­ture in this room dates to the 18th cen­tury.


This bed­room be­came Wiggett Chute’s study in the 1870s and be­came known as the straw­berry par­lor in the 20th cen­tury. Ar­chi­tec­tural draw­ings and prints hang on the wall, all as­so­ci­ated with Straw­berry Hill, Ho­race Walpole’s gothic cas­tle in Lon­don. The por­trait over the writ­ing desk is of Thomas Lobb Chute, who in­her­ited the Vyne in 1776 when his cousin died. The seascape over the fire­place is 18th cen­tury.

Chute added 16 new bed­rooms to the ser­vants’ wing and was keen to do away with in­for­mal ar­range­ments be­tween masters and ser­vants.

Fam­ily portraits, pas­tels and wa­ter­col­ors em­bel­lish the south bed­room, some of which in­clude portraits of Sir Charles and Lady Chute. The ma­hogany tester bed­stead is English and was made around 1845. The hang­ings are a more re­cent acquisition and the fabric dates to the early 20th cen­tury.

Wigget Chute grained the wood pan­els in the din­ing par­lor to cre­ate the ap­pear­ance of light oak. They are Tu­dor linen­fold pan­els, and moved to this room from an­other part of the house. They show how a 16th-cen­tury, fully pan­eled room in this style would have looked. The pic­ture over the fire­place is called Aurora. It’s a 19th cen­tury copy of Guido Reni’s ceil­ing paint­ing, de­pict­ing the god­dess of dawn, Aurora, in the Casino Rospigliosi, Rome. To its left is the paint­ing, Moonlight, by Se­bas­tian Palmer, dated 1841.


The Vyne is cur­rently un­der­go­ing con­ser­va­tion of the roof, which means many of the rooms are closed to vis­i­tors. It has an ex­hi­bi­tion on the ground floor and a rooftop walk­way, en­abling you to see the restora­tion work tak­ing place. The works are ex­pected to be com­plete in the spring of 2018, and the up­per floors will be open to the public again. Do check on­line for full de­tails if you are plan­ning to visit this lovely his­toric es­tate.

This set of wal­nut chairs is English and dates to 1715. They have balus­ter form backs and the seats were re­uphol­stered in the 1940s by Laura, Lady Chute.

above. The large draw­ing room is the first room along the north front, which was prob­a­bly built in the 17th cen­tury. The pic­ture over the fire­place is a 1680 cre­ation by Vin­cente Giner, pur­chased by Wiggett Chute in 1843. op­po­site. The south bed­room...

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