"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Friday, 19 August 2022

Trip to Herefordshire - Part 4: Berrington Hall House Interior and "Dress Fit For A King" Exhibition


I was determined this time to have a look at the interior of the Hall especially as one of the church crawling group on twitter had shown photos of a rather superb Court Mantua dress from Georgian times.

Berrington Hall was built in 1778-81 for a Thomas Harley, son of the 3rd Earl of Oxford.  It was designed by Architect Henry Holland. The interior illustrates his refined Louis XVI style.  There are mythological references to the marriage of Harley's daughter Anne to George the eldest son of Admiral Rodney.

The hall has a grand Ionic portico.

You enter the house via the Marble Hall which was inspired by French neo Classicism introduced to England in  the 1770's by Henry Holland.

Classical plaster roundels of trophies of arms.

Drawing Room

The Boudoir

At this stage I got a bit confused over the rooms! To be honest the house had more visitors than I felt comfortable with and I spent a bit of time dawdling and lingering to try and get away from a huge group who seem to have entered at the same time as me. But as they were reading every bit of information going in the end I decided to continue.

Lady Cawley's Sitting Room

The area around the Staircase Hall and Grand Staircase

The next few rooms were full of exhibits for the "Dress Fit For a King" exhibition of Georgian dresses.  

In 2016 Christie's Auction House contacted the National Trust to say that Ann Harley's Court Mantua which she would have worn to court to meet King George III probably when her husband was Mayor of London 1767/68 was coming up for auction.

Ann Harley was the daughter of Edward Bangham MP and the wife of the Hon. Thomas Harley 1730 - 1804.  The National Trust placed a successful bid and the dress arrived in 10 separate pieces.  The dress was restored throughout 2019.  A section of sleeve was missing and part of the stomacher.  New technology has enable restorers to produce new fabric to replace the missing sleeve

One room contained replica court mantua dresses showing how the dress design changed over the years.

1708/9 (Queen Anne)

1735/40 (George II)

1760's/70's (George III)

Late 1760's (George III)

1750's - 1770's (George II and George III)

And a photo of THE dress I had come to see.

I came out of the exhibition on replica court mantuas to find myself at the top of the servant's stairs so where was THE dress. Somehow I had missed it so I had to retrace my steps to the top of the stairs and ask the guide and there it was hidden away in a room which had been surrounded by people when I arrived hence me missing it!

Isn't it gorgeous?! Although I really would not want to wear it!

The fabric is cream ribbed silk brocade with coloured silk and gold threads. 

Back to the house tour and the Dining Room

I spotted this in the library.

I think some parts of the house were closed ie the Nurseries and the Servants' Quarters.

Leaving the house I met up with B for an icecream and final look at the walled garden.  We later packed and came home in the early evening.

I hope we can return to Herefordshire soon although the ominous news is that the massive rebuilding work in the adjoining semi appears imminent as there are signs they are about to move out.  No sign of any Party Wall Agreement from them though!  I suspect they will just move out and the builders will appear.  I won't go into detail but I am sure you can imagine that I now wish we had made a real effort into moving before all this started although there have been various reasons that have made this difficult which I won't go into here.

I hope everyone is staying safe and well.

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera (I don't particularly rate most of my photos but if anyone wises to use one I would be grateful please for an email first).

Reference: National Trust Guide Book to Berrington Hall

National Trust Website Berrington Hall sections


Rustic Pumpkin said...

It is an amazing dress, but not my style! I wonder how they walked? Waddled? Is this style responsible for wide double doors? Or did they sidle through sideways? It's always interesting to look at, and make comparisons of, what is happening across the spectrum of art, architecture, fashion, and the social/political environment of any given era. I have some wonderful books on the history of fashion. Have you ever visited the Museum of Costume in Bath?

Rosie said...

Lovely photos, the Hall interior looks wonderful. Oh my goodness that mantua dress. I love the fabric and it certainly shows off the silk brocade to perfection but the shape - how on earth did the women get through doors and into carriages. Perhaps there was a way of collapsing the under structure for that purpose? I guess they were worn at court and other large houses where the doors would be wide and grand. I much prefer the shape of the dresses in the boudoir in your first two photos and the pretty hat trimmed in blue. It must have been such intricate work to replace the missing bits of the mantua dress. How wonderful to see all the different Georgian styles:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rustic Pumpkin - Thanks so much and lol re: the waddling!! I suspect they sidled sideways probably everywhere. It must have taken hours to get dressed esp with those wigs!!! No not really visited Bath since a school trip when I was eleven which was mainly the Roman baths! I would like to go that museum though. History of fashion must be a fascinating subject to research!

Rosie - Thanks so much. Deborah above just wondering too how they got through doors and of course as you say carriages! Did you read the label about how they spent a penny!!!!!! Yes dresses in boudoir would have been a lot easier to wear!!! Restorers do such wonderful jobs these days. So glad I visited the exhibition as it was so very interesting and it brings Georgian times more to life.

Billy Blue Eyes said...

Interesting visit that, the house is reminiscent of a couple I went to around here only looks smaller. Found the way the lady used that potty to go to the loo amusing. Wonder if she discretely went in another room so people did not notice

Ragged Robin said...

Billy Blue Eyes - Thanks so much. No idea perhaps they had a sort of withdrawing room - can't see maids being allowed in a room where main event was taken place!

Rosie said...

Yes, I did read what the lovely ceramic dish was for. I wonder how many of those are still around and if people actually collect them? I see Rustic Pumpkin mentioned the Costume Museum in Bath which I've visited a couple of times. There also use to be a wonderful costume museum at Platt Hall in Manchester. It's closed now and the exhibits are with the main Manchester Museum. I have a book I bought at Platt Hall called 'The Fabric of Society' which covers clothes from 1770 to 1870. It was a Laura Ashley publication by Jane Tozer and Sarah Levitt. I don't know if it is still availableas I had mine in 1984:)

The Quacks of Life said...

firstly good luck with the builders!

Berrington is a lovely house, alas it is years since I went there but Herefordshire on my list for next year :)

Bovey Belle said...

I am smiling at the ladies wearing SUCH extravagantly wide dresses - they must have had to sidle through some doors sideways! The skirt would have taken many yards of fabric too - conspicuous consumption.

So sorry that the work on Next Door is going ahead and I wish you had been able to move. I hope it won't make your home less desirable should you wish to sell in the future. I keep wishing you will move to one of the beautiful villages you fall in love with on your travels.

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - That dish caused quite a stir on Twitter! I wouldn't be surprised if they are collected. I don't think I have been to a costume museum anywhere. We did drive through Bath on way to Dorset some years ago but never stopped although my daughter and son went for a day on the train a few years back. The book sounds good. I will see if I can track it down. I have a lot of books on architecture and churches through the centuries but nothing on fashion so thanks so much.

The Quacks of Life - Thanks Pete :)

Oh goody you are returning next year :) I look forward to seeing where you go and your photos :)

Bovey Belle. Thanks - yes they are wide!!!!! Agreed a lot of work etc and expense let alone material must have gone into making one of those!

Thank you. To be honest so long since plans approved I was beginning to hope they weren't going to do it! I think it would be harder to sell if we sold while our roof exposed etc!!!!! Yes I want to move to one of those beautiful villages and a detached cottage which would be affordable as property so much cheaper in certain counties but huge problem in that OH and I do not agree on a) where to move and b) what type of house! It may be easier if my daughter moves out if her flat purchase ever does go through. But son doesn't want to move as he loves this house and OH wants to stay local and I am afraid I don't and have no wish to spend as much on a overpriced pokey house locally where you are paying for schools when I could have a detached cottage in a village which is rural and as far away from where we live now as we can get!!!!!!!
We should have got motivated though and compromised and got out instead of leaving it until it is too late!!!!

CherryPie said...

I dislike it when people linger too long not allowing others to enjoy the space.

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thank you