Restored and Resplendent
THIS BEAUTIFUL JACOBEAN HOME BOASTS RENOVATED VICTORIAN INTERIORS AND A VISIT FROM CHARLOTTE BRONTE.
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
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.
THE DRAWING ROOM
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
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.
THE HUNTROYDE ROOM
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.