El­iz­a­bethan In­spi­ra­tion

DIS­COVER A TREA­SURE IN SHAKE­SPEARE’S HOME COUNTY OF WAR­WICK­SHIRE, ENG­LAND.

Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Susie Kear­ley

Dis­cover a trea­sure lo­cated in Shake­speare’s home county of War­wick­shire, Eng­land.

I

n 1583, a young Wil­liam Shake­speare went deer poach­ing at Charlecote Park.

He was caught and tried by Sir Thomas Lucy I, a mag­is­trate, in the great hall at Charlecote. Shake­speare was prob­a­bly fined, and he may also have re­ceived a flog­ging and ban­ish­ment from the grounds.

Many years later, he wrote Sir Thomas into one of his plays, The Merry Wives of Wind­sor, por­tray­ing him in the un­flat­ter­ing role of Jus­tice Shal­low.

Queen El­iz­a­beth I vis­ited the park in 1572, and Sir Thomas laid on ex­trav­a­gant en­ter­tain­ment for her visit. To­day, a bust of Queen El­iz­a­beth I stands on the man­tel­piece over the open fire in the great hall. Thomas Lucy was knighted in the great hall in 1565 by the Queen’s fa­vorite, Robert Dud­ley, Earl of Leicester.

The Lucy fam­ily lived at Charlecote for al­most 900 years, be­gin­ning in the 12th cen­tury, with suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tions oc­cu­py­ing the es­tate. In the 1550s, the first Thomas Lucy con­structed the house that stands to­day. Por­traits of Lucy fam­ily an­ces­tors line the walls in many rooms, and four mem­bers of the fam­ily still live there in a pri­vate wing.

Be­tween 1829 and 1865, Ge­orge and Mary Lucy trans­formed much of Charlecote, in­spired by the El­iz­a­bethan re­vival style. They dec­o­rated rooms with heraldic stained glass, ebony fur­ni­ture and beau­ti­ful ta­bles and cab­i­nets from the Wil­liam Beck­ford Col­lec­tion. The house is a glo­ri­ous ex­am­ple of 19th cen­tury El­iz­a­bethan re­vival­ist style.

MAK­ING A GRAND EN­TRANCE

Tro­phy heads and hunt­ing scenes were com­mon in great houses, where hunt­ing was a pop­u­lar pas­time. The view from the en­trance porch leads straight into the im­pres­sive great hall.

DECEPTIVE BEAUTY

The great hall is a stun­ning ex­am­ple of Ge­orge Hammond Lucy’s 19th cen­tury El­iz­a­bethan re­vival in­te­ri­ors. He took a cold and drafty room, knocked down the gallery and trans­formed it into the great hall, where he dis­played por­traits of his an­ces­tors and their fa­mous vis­i­tors. The ceil­ing is deceptive. It’s ac­tu­ally plas­ter­work, painted to look like a wooden bar­rel-vaulted ceil­ing. The walls, which ap­pear to be stone, are also painted plas­ter. The El­iz­a­bethan style chim­ney­p­iece is from this pe­riod of re­dec­o­ra­tion in the 1830s. There are even Tu­dor roses on the door han­dles.

The El­iz­a­bethan style chim­ney­p­iece is from this pe­riod of re­dec­o­ra­tion in the 1830s.

EL­IZ­A­BETHAN IN­SPI­RA­TION

The din­ing room was part of an ex­ten­sion to the house in the 1830s, with views of the river and deer park out­side. The dec­o­ra­tive scheme dates to the 1830s, and was in­spired by El­iz­a­bethan de­signs. There is oak pan­el­ing on the lower walls and the wall­pa­per is blue/red flock on gold. The stained glass win­dows con­tain Wille­ment’s ar­mo­rial glass. The pale blue vases on the man­tel­piece are Crack­lin vases, which orig­i­nally cost 15 guineas. The blue/gold vases be­side them cost 23 Bri­tish pounds, 12 shillings and 6 old pence. The Wil­ton car­pet com­ple­ments the wall­pa­per, while the rug un­der the ta­ble has heraldic mo­tifs of the Lucy fam­ily.

UP­STAIRS AND DOWN­STAIRS

This stair­case was first cre­ated be­tween 1717 and 1723, and may have been re­con­structed in the 19th cen­tury. The pan­el­ing is 19th cen­tury, im­i­tat­ing the style of Fran­cis Smith of War­wick. The por­trait at the top of the stairs de­picts Ge­orge Lucy. It was painted by Thomas Gains­bor­ough in 1760, and cost 8 guineas. The other por­traits de­pict Sir Henry Fair­fax-lucy and his fam­ily. The Dutch cab­i­net un­der the stairs might be the work of Jan van Mek­eren, a 17th cen­tury cab­i­net maker from Amsterdam, and may have stood in this po­si­tion since 1837. The ta­pes­try at the top of the stairs is an 18th cen­tury Flem­ish cre­ation, show­ing the Duke of Marl­bor­ough in bat­tle.

The stained glass win­dows con­tain Wille­ment’s ar­mo­rial glass.

TRIMMED IN DA­MASK

The draw­ing room dec­o­ra­tive scheme dates to the 1850s and was de­signed by Mary El­iz­a­beth Lucy. Silk da­mask cov­ers the walls, and the orig­i­nal wall cover­ing came from Trol­lope and Sons in the 1820s. It was re­placed in 1984 with an iden­ti­cal copy, cre­ated by Richard Humphries of Cas­tle Hed­ing­ham.

The fur­ni­ture came from the Fonthill Abbey sale in Wilt­shire, and much of it orig­i­nated from Florence, Italy. The Erand harp be­longed to Mary El­iz­a­beth Lucy, who was a keen harpist.

THE ROOM OF SE­CRETS

The li­brary was of­ten used for serv­ing tea. You can see the heraldic stained glass win­dows here, which were added in the 1830s and ap­pear else­where in the house too. Wille­ment cre­ated the carved wood­work, gold leaf wall­pa­per and seat cov­ers, which were re­placed in 1954 with re­pro­duc­tion cov­ers. The fur­ni­ture and fit­tings in this room have barely been touched since they were put here in the 1830s. Wil­cox carved the oak chairs, and there’s a se­cret cup­board con­tain­ing books and pa­pers.

A ROOM FOR EN­TER­TAIN­MENT

Just about ev­ery Vic­to­rian coun­try house has a bil­liard room, where gen­tle­men would re­tire af­ter din­ner for a game and a smoke. The north wing was re­mod­eled in the 1950s to cre­ate this room. The ceil­ing is a shal­low-ribbed Ja­cobean de­sign, dat­ing to 1856. In 1841, Ge­orge Hammond Lucy pur­chased the fire­place from the Ac­cademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) in Florence. The pic­ture over the fire­place de­picts Ge­orge Lucy and dates to 1758—it was painted while he was on a grand tour of Europe. The other por­traits show late Vic­to­rian mem­bers of the Lucy fam­ily.

Left. Mary El­iz­a­beth Lucy’s harp by Se­bas­tian and Pierre Erardhe stands in the draw­ing room. Op­po­site. Both the ceil­ing and walls of the great hall are made from painted plas­ter, de­signed to look like tim­ber and stone.

Right. This is the great hall, with the mar­ble and por­phyry plinths that were pur­chased in the 1840s and came from Italy.

Left. This view looks into the great hall from the en­trance porch at Charlecote Park.

Above. Over the din­ing room fire­place is Spoils of the Chase by Frans Sny­der, who spe­cial­ized in paint­ing hunt­ing scenes. At the time, th­ese im­ages were con­sid­ered suit­able din­ing room dec­o­ra­tions.

The draw­ing room con­tains fur­ni­ture from Florence, a harp, Tu­dor por­traits and land­scapes. It’s pre­served the way Mary El­iz­a­beth de­signed it.

Above. The Bardin globes in the li­brary date from 1800. One maps the world as seen at that time, while the other is a ce­les­tial globe de­pict­ing the night sky. Op­po­site, top. A se­cret cup­board in­side a book­shelf re­sides in the li­brary.

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