Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Cerise visited #Regency #Osterley Park, brought home a patroness of Almack's!

Caretaker's cottage beyond main gate!
Going to England? One of the best homes to see if you are a Regency fan is Osterley Park. Nestled in a rolling estate not far from central London, the house is a gorgeous example of Regency architecture and Georgian furniture.

Taking the Tube, you can easily get to the stop in a few minutes. Yes, it is a bit of a walk from the station, perhaps a mile or two, but the terrain is flat. (And the trek works off your eggs and banger for breakfast!) If you'd prefer a taxi, those are readily available on the street.

But as for Mr. Deland and me, we did the walk and were glad we did. This always give us a greater sense of the town, the people, the restaurants and yes, I even spied a black gas meter in the sidewalk, circa. 1880!

Nestled off the main road, the house and the grounds sit away from the bustle of traffic. The gate is lovely, the caretakers cottage, too. And then suddenly you are greeted by the four-legged inhabitants! These shown here are only a few of this working estate. Charolais cattle are the drawing card but the day we were here, they must have been on vacation.
The winding walk around the pond toward the house...just there amid the trees.
That four-pillared entrance portico you see was designed (and added on to the house) by famed architect Robert Adams. Interesting because it does not cover the entire walkway to the front doors, it adds a Palladian charm and symmetry that makes the house grander than its more humble Tudor origins. 

Built by a Tudor financier, the house and grounds over the centuries became dilapidated. They were purchased in mid-18th century by Francis Child, a trader and banker. His intention was to keep the original footprint of the Elizabethan house and improve it with Adams' more contemporary sensibilities. Not only did Adam plan to improve the appearance of the outside of the house, but he redecorated the inside by deciding on each piece of furniture and ornamentation. 

Those who owned the house were a family grown rich from their involvement in the East India Company and afterward in banking. The appointments in the house reflect that interest with a lot of Chinese porcelain of the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties, ivory carvings from India as well the yellow and jades colors well associated with those periods. The Long Gallery, where ladies could take their constitutionals on rainy or snowy days, showcases these family treasures.

Intriguing to see so well preserved is the bed in the State Bed Chamber which is more than 14 feet tall and almost 8 feet wide. Huge and canopied, the massive bed was meant for a visit by King George III who never visited. But the crown atop the carved canopy denotes the hope the monarch might arrive. The lavish appointments of linens and coverlet are lovely works of the period. The bill for this room, the bed and furnishings was so enormous, Robert Child ripped up the paper and never told anyone the final tally!

Up an elaborate green marbled staircase are more bedrooms and a library. Each is preserved in varying degrees with period furniture, draperies and fittings. The library is rather bare, because the contents (original works) were sold for profit and/or given to museums long ago. The music room on the main floor features a piano given to one of the ladies of the house. In the servants hall downstairs I suggest you take your time to look at each and every pot, pan, loooong wooden table, sinks for washing vegetables and a century-old oven. Next to that is the estate manager's office, large and dark and imperious. In all, the house inspires visions of who had walked here, what finery they wore, what dreams they dreamt.
Sarah Sophia Child Villiers
Countess of Jersey

(4 March 1785 – 26 January 1867

One intriguing story is about the daughter of Robert Child. Sarah Anne wished to marry the 10th Earl of Westmorland, a known gambler and rake. When the man asked her father for her hand, Robert refused on grounds he was not worthy of her. Plus, he feared the man married her for her fortune.

When the earl asked her father, What would you do if you loved a lady and her father refused you?
Robert replied, Why, run away with her, to be sure!

And so the young man persuaded the lady to elope with him to Gretna Green in Scotland. Robert was in hot pursuit but to no avail. The marriage was completed. The Westmorland's however lived happily together despite the fact that Robert rewrote his will, disinheriting his daughter and awarding all his fortune to her second child. That child was a girl who became a scion of society and famous patroness of Almacks, the famous 5th Countess of Jersey. 

As with houses operated by the National Trust, this one must be preserved by careful cooperation with visitors. Pictures inside were a no-no. And so I urge you to go see the house for yourself. And please do take a preview of the house and fabulous furnishings
at the website! http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/osterley-park-and-house.