Carol celebrates Christmas with gusto every year,
invariably among a big gathering of family, friends and neighbors.
The huge drawing room at the front of the house is the real star of the show, containing three floor-to-ceiling windows that allow daylight to flood in. The fine marble fireplace stands in a prominent position, installed beneath a plaster ceiling with a deep ornamental. Evenings in the room are illuminated by a glittering 19th century crystal chandelier, which has been passed down through the generations. Carol and Peter updated the drawing room by installing a pair of double doors, which they can open to allow in extra light. Carol has also covered the walls in a statement-making, Gustavian-style wallpaper by Zoffany. “It took 21 rolls,” she says.
Less formal arrangements exist in the kitchen, where Carol and Peter treated the existing cabinetry to a fresh coat of paint and added extra storage. “We’ve had dresser-style shelving installed in one of the alcoves so that I can display my grandmother’s collection of 1920s blue and white Spode china,” Carol says. “It’s a timeless design, and something which I very much treasure.”
Off the entrance hall overlooking the front lawn is the room that in Georgian times, would have been a lady’s morning room. It’s now a small library/sitting room with one whole wall dedicated to books. The previous owner’s legacy of red walls has since given way to a gentler, English country style. “We had the paneling and dado made by a local joiner, who copied the design of the original joinery in the house,” Carol says.
The layout on the first floor is charmingly random, due to the arrangement of short corridors and little corners, where doors open to reveal bedrooms and bathrooms. Carol has gracefully redecorated this to reflect the elegance of the Georgian surroundings. Her fondness for marrying French antique furniture with traditional English wallpapers and fabrics is evident in the green room, which she reconfigured to create room for a bathroom, while the mixture of whites, florals and vintage ginghams indicates a more young-atheart approach in the adjoining bedroom.
With so much known about Radford Villa’s history, it is perhaps worth wondering how those upwardly mobile first owners would react if they saw how people live in their creation today. Their spirits should rest easy, for the house seems as popular with guests as it was when parties were in full swing in the 1830s. The villa’s rural charm and architectural character remain safe in Carol and Peter’s hands. For information about Radford Villa and Villa’s Loft, a bed and breakfast owned by Carol and Peter Richards, visit radfordvilla.com.