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.
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.
A LITERARY CHANGE
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.