Monday, 26 September 2016

"To The Manor Reborn"


May be you saw the Avebury Manor restoration programme on the BBC presented by Penelope Keith and Paul Martin - the title in this post is a reference to Penelope Keith's appearance in the 1970s sitcome "To the Manor Born".
Avebury Manor began life as a small medieval Benedictine priory sited within the famous Neolithic stone circle, but was converted into a manor house during the middle of the c16th. 
When the National Trust acquired the house it was in a bad state of neglect and very few of the original contents remained in situ. The NT curators had been wondering how to tackle the interiors when they were approached by the BBC who came up with the idea of doing a restoration programme.
I didn't watch the programme and had ambivalent feelings about the idea of recreating the interiors. However, it did involved the expertise of many skilled craftspeople including furniture makers, artists, together with carpet and fabric designers The traditional Chinese wallpaper was inspired by surviving antique examples, and handpainted by Chinese craftspeople from Fromental in Jiangsu province. Having now visited the manor I realise that it does cater to all ages and gives a very relaxed family outing. There are no off limits, you can sit on the chairs, open the draws, read the books, or try on the tudor clothes - only the handpainted wallpaper is out of bounds - mainly the interior has been given an authentic appearance but there are some witty touches too. 

If you look carefully at the Chinese wallpaper a reference to Avebury itself can be found showing the manor, the stones, and in the center Sir Adam Williamson who inherited the manor in 1789. He was a well travelled man taking part in the capture of both Louisberg and Quebec from the French. He went to Jamaica where he became the Governor General.
I could happily have taken this seat home - it would sit comfortably in either a traditional or a contemporary setting
The 1930s Art Deco style shown in this room reflects the period when the house was owned by Alexander Keiller. His private income came from his family's former business, the Keillers of Dundee marmalade and confectionary company

The kitchen reflects the early c20th - Britain was on the brink of war, the Suffragette movement was in full swing and the Titanic sank on her maiden voyage   
The Tudor Parlour with its newly handmade replica oak furniture represents the wealth of the owners at that time, William and Mary Dunch. From modest beginnings William became an important and influential man who was close to Queen Elizabeth I
Late afternoon sunbeams played through the large stone mullion windows
The final room represents Queen Anne's Chamber - the replica bed is a copy of the State Bed which can be seen in Dyrham Park. 
It is not known whether or not Queen Anne actually stayed at Avebury - the only evidence is heresay by a servant saying that "our Queen Anne dined here"
Poor Queen Anne was plagued by ill health throughout her life, and from her thirties she grew increasingly lame and obese. She had 18 children from 17 pregnancies in 17 years (1684-1700). Despite all of these pregnancies when she died at the age of 49 years in 1714 she had no surviving children and was the last monarch of the House of Stuart.
Arriving home, flocks of migrating birds flying in 'V' formation passed overhead at the start of their long journey south to new feeding grounds,
and the sun slipped away for another day

49 comments:

  1. I like art Deco but the carpet in that living room makes me dizzy, a bit too much. Those windows with the light coming in are wonderful!

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    1. I like Art Deco too and Art Nouveau

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  2. Hello Rosemary, Certainly this is a different kind of restoration, but it has many points of interest and is kind of fun. Usually, I like high-style Art Deco but this room just didn't seem to work--it is ugly. Perhaps seeing it in person would be different. The Chinese paper is great, and shows how work of this quality is still being produced. I also would like to wander among the tins and pots in the kitchen--it reminds me of the TV show "The Victorian Kitchen" that I enjoyed so much.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - The Art Deco room was actually a very cosy place to sit and enjoy looking at the different pieces of 1930s sculpture, paintings, telephone, and the interesting books.

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  3. Dear Rosemary, I absolutely loved this post. Hardly know where to begin. There was one surprise after another. Wish I could see a close-up of those plates in the sideboard.

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    1. Dear Gina - thank you so much I am so pleased that you enjoyed seeing it - it was interesting that they had managed to collect so much stuff from across all the different period and made the house feel lived in.

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  4. I love Art Deco, although that carpet is rather ott I think. I remember when Avebury Manor came up for sale in Country Life - in the late 1970s I think and my ex-husband and I both picked it out as our dream home. So pleased the National Trust has been able to restore it and hope to visit one day.

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    1. I hope that you will try and make a visit to see it now, and see what you think of it.

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  5. A fascinating look around Avebury Manor. Exterior wise - it has to be one of the loveliest houses. Inside, it is a shame that it had been so neglected and so much there now is reproduction. I wonder if it's lost some of its atmosphere as a result. But I do admire the skill of the modern craftspeople and I don't suppose you could ever fully take away the charm of a house like that.

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    1. It still has a special ambience especially with those wonderful windows, and of course being there on a sunny day makes a bit difference.

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  6. Thank you Rosemary for another great post. I am always happy to read these places are being taken care of. It is such a beautiful house.
    Poor Queen Anne! To suffer all of that and not have one surviving child.

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    1. Queen Anne's life sounds awful to me, just imagine being pregnant for 17 years on the trot - she must have forgotten what it was like to be simply herself. You are right it is a beautiful house, and situated in a lovely setting too.

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  7. A lovely looking building, I remember the series well. I love what they have done with the interior, but definitely not that hideous carpet in the 30's room.

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    1. You are not the only one to dislike the 30s carpet - I wouldn't want a patterned carpet myself but I didn't mind it in that particular setting

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  8. We visited here a couple of years ago, it was lovely to see. I wasn't quite sure about everything and all that they had done, but I did enjoy it and could see the reasoning behind it and what they were trying to achieve with a building that was essentially empty and otherwise wouldn't have had a story to tell. Lovely to see it again through your eyes and photos! I noticed a few things that I had missed which was nice. Thank you! xx

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    1. I do recall that you visited Avebury yourself a while ago - it is well worth a visit and it was nice to see modern craftsmanship at work too.

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  9. Wonderful place to visit. I do like that Chinese wallpaper of the Manor.

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    1. It is lovely to think that the traditional skills of wallpaper painting are still well and truly alive in China today.

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  10. Really nice designs and artwork and I always like old elaborate decorative tins.

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    1. I have seen some vintage biscuits tins on the Antique Roadshow that have been worth hundreds of pounds.

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  11. Everything is so nice here, but I especially like the simple but refined outside appearance of the Avebury Manor and the large stone mullion windows with the wooden bench below it. I’d like to sit there in the shower of light in the autumn late afternoon. The rosy clouds look like a phoenix flying. BTW, It’s so hot today here with 32 degrees C, I turned on air conditioning.

    Yoko

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    1. Hello Yoko - no need for air conditioning here, it is now beginning to feel decidedly cooler outside.
      You are right the rosy clouds do rather resemble a flying phoenix.

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  12. Magnificent.
    I may not be able to live there, but I can watch. And admire.
    Your beautiful pictures tell a great story.

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    1. It is a lovely property and spot - thank you for your kind comment

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  13. Dearest Rosemary,
    Well, the restoration is a great thing and especially for preserving such a valuable piece of history.
    However, the Art Deco room would give me headaches; absolutely not to my liking...
    As for the poor Queen Anne, what a fate the woman had, bearing so many children and none surviving. She died rather you as well.
    Sending you hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - the Art Deco room was not to everyones taste, but some of the objects such as the statuettes were lovely.
      Yes, poor Queen Anne - what a life

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  14. I would have loved to see the program of restoration, seems to me they did an awesome job, very respectful of the period .

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    1. Dear Jane - it is an interesting place to visit as you can get involved with the interiors, if you fancy, you can even climb on to the great bed and try it out!

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  15. I saw the TV prog about this restoration, but I have enjoyed seeing our lovely photos ever more.
    Margaret P

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    1. Oh! that is very kind and generous of you to say Margaret - thank you

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  16. Hello Rosemary,

    How very interesting. I agree with you that the couch is a beauty and would fit in many homes.
    Poor Queen Anne, what a life she had and to die so young.
    Hope your week is going well

    Helenxx

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    1. Hello Helen - I liked that couch a lot, both the colour of the fabric and the style.
      Queen Anne's life was certainly not one that I would like to emulate.

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  17. Thank you, Rosemary - it is interesting to see things rebuilt - they do quite a lot of it in Germany, and I have mixed feelings about it - though the idea to show people "how it was" is ok.
    The poor Queen looks unhappy, was my first thought - then I read why.
    I love your sunsets with geese - every year I am twice (spring and autumn) on the look (and hear-)out for them - they flew over our house in Hildesheim, than over the flat in Hamburg, and now in Berlin: directly over the house again!

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    1. It is always lovely to see the geese - I saw them arriving one Springtime in Scotland, and they were all honking away happily as they flew over our heads, I suspect they were pleased that they had finally arrived.

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  18. Ooh, looks as if they have done a tremendous job. I visited Avebury Manor before it was sold, it was actually a pleasant old house, although I suppose nothing special. But nothing wrong with it at all, full of old furniture and with an air of antiquity. This looks more interesting but is it more "authentic"? I don't know...

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    1. It can't be authentic Jenny - it has been conceived by the people and the advisers on the prgramme, but it does reflect the different periods well.

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  19. We visited Avebury manor last year and we quite liked it, I especially loved the 1930's sitting room. Lovely photos, thank you for sharing them and bringing back some lovely memories. Xxx

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    1. Thank you Lyn - the 1930s room also had a strong appeal for me too

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  20. thank you it is really pleasure to move eyes on your photos great display of artistic and old living

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  21. This is a brilliant restoration of the interiors and I like how they did different time periods. That wall paper is stunning and almost tells a story. I recall "To the Manor Born", a fun series.

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    1. It was interesting to show different periods of the house within the restoration and contrast the various owners different lifestyle - thank you for your comment

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  22. Dear Rosemary, thank you for a lovely tour inside Avebury Manor. So beautiful and I love how you can experience different periods of the history of the house. Imagine if walls could talk. And that Art Deco room looks so cosy and the lamp is to die for. :) As always, wonderful photography and such an interesting post Rosemary. :)

    Take care my dear.♥

    Charlie
    xx

    Ps. I used to watch "To the Manor born" together with my mother in the 70's and adored it. Saw it again a couple of years ago and it's still just as great. :)

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    1. I used to watch the programme too Charlie - I am always surprised at just how many of our TV programmes travel all around the world.
      Thank you for your kind comment, it is always lovely to see you here - sending you my best wishes♡

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  23. "To the Manor Born" aired here a few years ago and I loved every episode! This kind of restoration reflecting a variety of periods and owners is very interesting. I especially appreciate that one can actually touch objects. It seems more like an actual space for living rather than just a museum.

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    1. They even let you clamber onto that ornate bed if you wish.

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  24. "To the Manor Born" aired here a few years ago and I loved every episode! This kind of restoration reflecting a variety of periods and owners is very interesting. I especially appreciate that one can actually touch objects. It seems more like an actual space for living rather than just a museum.

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