Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire

Front view
Rear view
Sudbury Hall, built by George Vernon in the reign of Charles II, is predominately Jacobean, yet the carved stone, wood, and plasterwork are in the elaborately decorated classical style. Vernon favoured the stone mullion and transom windows, but it is unusual to see circular and oval sections forming part of this arrangement. What Vernon created here was very much his own vision of a marriage between old fashioned Jacobean external features and an interior richly decorated in the classical style of Wren.
An arched doorway from the Great Hall leading to the staircase.  The heavily moulded pier stones, voussoirs (wedge shaped stones) make a statement entrance. The paving is local Derbyshire stone.
One of the finest 17th century staircases still remaining in situ in an English country house. It is known from notes made by George Vernon that he had reservations about a proposal to put pineapples on the top of the newels being the fashion at that time, and also the symbol of hospitality. Instead Vernon chose these delightful baskets of pomegranate fruit. In almost every religion the pomegranate has been used as a symbol of humanity's most fundamental beliefs and desires, life and death, birth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, abundance and prosperity.

George Vernon himself in the Saloon - he owned vast acreages in the Derbyshire Peak District,  and was locally known as 'King of the Peak'.
The ceiling depicts the Four Seasons by Louis Laguerre
In the Saloon the family portraits are surrounded by exquisite carving carried out by Edward Pearce.
The Drawing Room has a wonderful Grinling Gibbons draped swag, which hangs around a large painting. Followers may remember that I showed examples of his work on this post. Gibbons carved this swag in limewood for a total cost of £40 in 1680. 
The Library
Originally this room was George Vernon's study and referred to as his chamber.
The acanthus leaf cornice, which I love, is by a local plasterer Samuel Mansfield and was completed in 1670. It has been painted to replicate faux wood.
View to the rear garden and lake
A fine 17th century picture frame made into a wall mirror reflecting a Chinese 18th century black lacquered screen showing river scenes.
White Carara marble bust of Emperor Napoleon I attributed to Antonis Canova.
'One lump or two' earl grey and fancies in Lady Vernon's Sitting Room. This room is decorated in the colours and style of the 1930s and was in daily use until 1978 by Violet the wife of the 9th Lord Vernon.
Finally Sudbury Hall's pièce de résistance - The Long Gallery - which takes up the whole length of the side of the house overlooking the south facing garden - it is 138ft in length. It has possibly the most impressive ceiling of any house in England. The plasterwork detail ranges from heads of Emperors, to shells, palm fronds and seedpods, all created around a central rosette. The work is considered by many to be the most magnificent feature of the house, closely followed by the lavishly decorated staircase.
One Lely lady from several in The Long Gallery - this is Nell Gwynn, the long time mistress of King Charles II. Called 'pretty, witty Nell' by Samuel Pepys.
Peter Lely was a painter of Dutch origin, whose career was nearly all spent in England, where he became the dominant portrait painter to the court. Apologies for the reflective light on the painting.
This post was prompted by a request from my blogging friend Mark following my visit to Derbyshire last year.
Footnote:
A member of the Vernon family was Admiral Sir Edward Vernon. He commanded the Royal Navy in the West Indies during the War of Jenkins' Ear. One of his junior officers was Lawrence Washington, the older and beloved half-brother of the future United States President George Washington. He was the first to live in the Mount Vernon estate, which he named after his commanding officer.
Lawrence Washington, half-brother to George Washington
painting courtesy wikipedia

38 comments:

  1. Rosemary -
    What an incredible and lavish manor home! The carvings, details, craftsmanship.....all so exceptional. The long gallery reminds me of Versailles. Are there formal gardens on the estate?
    Cheers,
    Loi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The gardens are very simple - mainly formal grass areas with statues, together box and yew topiary shapes. A large lake, avenues of shaped trees, and pathways with steps.

      Delete
  2. Another lavish post full of wonderful detailing. The Edward Pierce carvings are wonderful as is the Grinling Gibbons. What a fabulous name! The Long Gallery is magnificent with it's sumptuous plasterwork but whats this....do I detect humans straying into your images Rosemary?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a great name. He was actually born and educated in Holland where his father was a merchant. He came over to work in England and was practically a contemporary of Peter Lely. I wonder why so many Dutch people came to this country in the 17th century? may be it was because there was more work here for them and their skills particularly in the Royal Courts.
      Your sharp eyes have it again Paul. Yes, hands up, I do like my photos to be free of humanity if possible. They kept lingering around at the far end of the Long Gallery, so in the end I gave up waiting for them to pass on.

      Delete
  3. Dear rosemary,

    Thank you for the gift of this wonderful posting! There's so much to comment about, I hardly know where to begin.

    I like George Vernon's taste. While I don't know too much about Jacobean architecture, I like what I see. When I see quoining today, it's not always in relation to brick, and here there is such an expanse of brick that the quoining is understated (which I think it should be). And I am always in awe of the big windows on these very old houses.

    I love the plaster work, the charming basket newels, the bright yellow — in fact, I'm ready to pack my bags and move in. And I thought it interesting that Vernon hung a portrait of the king's mistress. I recently read a fascinating book "Sex With Kings," and came to thoroughly enjoy Nell Quynn. What a hoot!

    And interested as I am in American presidential history, I didn't know the connection between Lawrence Washington and the Vernon family. Thanks for that, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mark - glad that you enjoyed seeing Sudbury Hall. The exterior is a pleasing combination of fancy red brick work complimented by stone - typical Jacobean attributes.
      The Long Gallery is very light and a wonderful room. As you mentioned the windows are extremely large, which is surprising when you consider how little glass was around at that time - only the very wealthy had glass windows in the mid 17th century.
      I agree with you about the fruit basket newels, I would be very happy to own just one, they are really rather lovely.
      I mentioned Lawrence Washington and the Mount Vernon connection as I thought that it might be of interest to readers in the States.

      Delete
  4. The Long Gallery is something to behold and I have never seen one like it. I do adore the yellow walls going up the staircase and the fruit baskets are beautiful. Your images are so good in this house Rosemary, you captured the light perfectly. The only house one could compare it to here in America is the Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C. and there is no comparison.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Olive - We have a history going back such a long way that I suppose we are bound to have lots of very historic houses here.
      Thank you for mentioning Biltmore House, if we travel to the States again I would like to see it. I believe that it belonged to the Vanderbilt family.
      My images have improved since my eldest son came to stay from Norway last week. He has widened the margins on my posts so I can now do larger photos which enable me to show much more detail.
      As I mentioned above, I love those fruit baskets. Do you think that there is any chance of you finding something like that on your shopping forays?

      Delete
  5. Oh Rosemary, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for sharing this magnificent place with us. When I traveled to England many MANY years ago I always swore I'd return but unfortunately I haven't been able to. But viewing this sort of post is the next best thing for me. :)

    Derbyshire. Jane Austen country. At least it's Pemberly country.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Yvette - what a very generous comment - thank you very much. I am so delighted that you enjoyed visiting Sudbury Hall with me.
      Derbyshire- you are correct - Jane Austen country, and Chatsworth shown in the previous post is believed to be the original inspiration for Pemberley.

      Delete
  6. How stunning! Your photos show the spaces very well. So many wonderful details. Love the staircase and the long gallery. That ceiling is outstanding. Thanks for taking us to this wonderful mansion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Marie - so pleased to take you along on this visit. The staircase and long gallery are just made for photography - you would have a ball there with the lovely photos that you can do. My eldest son has widened the margins on my post, hence I am able to show better space and details which are really helpful when doing something like Sudbury Hall.

      Delete
  7. Hello Rosemary:
    What a wonderful house. Oh dear, another place to be visited and added to a growing list, largely inspired by your posts!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jane and Lance - time is of the essence as one gets older, and it is necessary to grab any opportunities whilst we still can. I know that this is most likely your philosophy too.

      Delete
  8. I am so pleased that you were able to take photos of your visit and enable us to take a virtual tour with you, especially as this is probably somewhere else I may never get the chance to visit for real. The joys of virtual travel thanks to bloggers :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is what I enjoy so much about bloggers - I learn so much from them. It is a wonderful medium - whatever did we do before?
      Sudbury is a NT property and they are happy for you to take photos inside as long as you do not use flash. Digital cameras operate so well without flash which is great.

      Delete
  9. What a magnificent estate. It has been wonderfully preserved and that is what is so great about these houses in Europe because here, in the US, preservation is not always a top priority, and compared to England and other European countries, very little money is in the budget for it. I wrote a post a while back about a great house in Long Island, NY, which was a celebrated place in the early 1910-1930 where Scott Fitzgerald placed the Great Gatsby. Well, it was destroyed in the spring to make place for a subdivision. Of course it was nothing like the house you photographed, but for America it was a historical house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many of our great houses are now owned by the National Trust, and they do maintain them in tiptop condition. They preserve them using exact replicas of the original wallpapers, paints and fabrics, which is an important element for the way they look.
      Privately owned houses are also well maintained on the whole. The owners diversify the properties by having extra features within the grounds to bring more money in for the upkeep of the properties. For example Woburn has a Safari Park as does Longleat House, and they even have a Centre Parcs vacation area tucked away on the edge of the estate in woodlands to bring in money for maintenance.

      Delete
  10. Your photos of Sudbury Hall are stunning. Thanks for sharing them with us.
    Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So pleased that you enjoyed seeing them Sarah and thank you.

      Delete
  11. We had a wonderful visit to Sudbury Hall last summer,and a walk around the village too - we will be returning soon to look for that crinkle crankle wall!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that is great, let me know if you find it or need further instructions.

      Delete
  12. A wonderful first photo of the property framed by darkened leaves, almost like a postcard. Your pictures give a marvellous sense of how grand and beautifully decorated it is, especially the ones of The Long Gallery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Rosemary - the tree was just in the right place. It was a very dark copper beech tree and that is why the leaves are so dramatic. The sun was in the wrong direction so I popped under the tree to shield the camera. It was one of those lucky shots.
      The Long Gallery is a wonderful room, and it is remarkably light and bright for a house that is 400 years old.

      Delete
  13. I think I've decided to never read another guide book, and to plan all my tourist trips around your blogs. This is another treasure trove to be explored. Thanks so much Rosemary. J.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Janice - what a very kind and generous comment to make - thank you very much. I loved your last post, and could sense the happiness and positivity emanating from it.

      Delete
  14. Excellent building. When I saw the first pictures I thought ok this is rather normal, nothing special. But from the staircase picture onwards, I was impressed.

    Greetings,
    Filip

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So pleased that you were not put off enough not to persevere - the staircase and the Long Gallery are rather special.

      Delete
  15. What a a magnificent building! The staircase, The Long Gallery, the ceilings and many carvings are splendid. Your photos showcase the details and overall views so well Rosemary. Wonderful post.

    I answered your questions regarding Mimosa trees in my bog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Karen - thank you and pleased that you enjoyed seeing Sudbury Hall. The Long Gallery and the staircase are very special - I would be very happy with just one of those baskets of fruit from the top of the newels.

      Delete
  16. Stunning post, Rosemary! I love that you captured so much of the detail. And took the time to share it here.

    All the best,

    Georgianna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Georgianna, glad that you enjoyed some of the wonderful architectural details that make up Sudbury Hall.

      Delete
  17. Hello Rosemary

    I enjoyed this post on Sudbury Hall. Such grandour and elegance. Your photos are exquisite and I loved reading the history of it's occupants.

    Helen xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Helen - Sudbury Hall has some very fine features, and in particular the beautiful carving which just lends itself to photos. I thought that the connection with Mount Vernon may be of interest to people in the States. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  18. It took me some time to come back and read your post but I did enjoyed it very much. Sudbury Hall is breathtaking. I know that among all these arcitectural details, history and art, it sounds a bit silly, but I admired most the... windows!
    I could live with those windows : )

    Have a lovely weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Demie - the windows are glorious, especially when you consider how rare it was to have any glass at all in windows during the 17th century. They are extremely large and let lots of light into the house.

      Delete
  19. That carving of Grinling Gibbons is just,... takes your breath away

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad that you enjoyed seeing it. Being a wood carver you would have a great appreciation of his work.

      Delete

❖PLEASE NOTE❖ Comments made by those who hide their identity will be deleted

“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you - you have to go to them sometimes”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh