Back in September I took a trip to the Cotswolds, and during my visit I took a tour around the beautiful Chastleton House, a true Jacobean time capsule. The house was completed in 1612 and until 1991, when it was acquired by the National Trust, Chastleton House was owned by the same family for almost 400 years. Overtime the wealth of the family began to dwindle, which meant that the usual restoration and refurbishment could not be carried out, therefore the house stayed in almost in its exact original form.
Barbara Clutton-Brock, the last private owner of the stunning property has said, “poverty is a great preserver”, and she is exactly right. The house is captures the romantic essence of time-stood-still, everything perfectly in its place, and although some things are quietly cracking, pealing or slightly disintegrating, all the features of Chastleton House still manage to convey the same beauty and harmony today and they would have during its reign.
This wrought-iron chandelier would have been an original feature in the Great Hall at Chastleton House, along with these amazing carvings in the woodwork. The first is from the archway that leads you into the hall and the second is located on the border of the panelling around the room. Both have some interesting imagery in them, including the classical acanthus leaves as well as some mythological hybrids between man and animal.
In the same Great Hall is a rather interesting display, a mounted stag head with its body painted onto the wall. This is quite an unusual way to display hunting trophies so may have been something that was introduced to the room as a later point in time, however it makes for an eye-catching piece and certainly pulled everyone’s attention during the tour.
Moving along through the house you enter the Great Parlour, which is full of wonderful features. The house is filled with wonderful tapestries, including this rich scenic piece which is parallel to the length of the dining table.
Another stunning feature in the Great Parlour is the fireplace which is flanked by two panels of Delft tiles. The blue and white tiles are a well sought after design, with originals being worth a considerable amount of money, these tiles would have been a very fashionable item to have in home especially during the mid to late 17th century.
My absolute favourite part of the house was the plasterwork on the ceilings in the Great Parlour, Great Chamber and the Long Gallery. The decorative ceiling made a huge impact and were just marvellous piece of artwork. It is rare to see such a heavily embellished ceiling in today’s modern world so the ceilings at Chastleton were a real treat for the eyes.
The ceiling isn’t all there is to see in the Great Chamber room at Chastleton, the oak panelling on all four walls on the room is covered in ornate carvings as well as square portraits. The whole room is dramatic in its appearance and there is true admiration for the craftsmanship that went into the decorative vision.
During the Renaissance period staircases became another way to add decorative features into a house, and this is certainly apparent for the central staircase at Chastleton. With the ornamental string panelling and the pointed newels, this is another great show of craftsmanship.
Upstairs in the house are some wonderful bedrooms that are the epitome of faded grandeur; from the divinely carved bed frames, to the tapestries that still manage after all this time to keep the brightness of that powerful royal blue, to the crumpling wallpaper and even the intricately carved door where the nose of a man’s portrait has been rubbed off, everything is perfect in its dishevelled state.
Finally, the very top of the house is where the Long Gallery is located, and is in fact one of the largest surviving galleries from this time period. As overheard by one of the tour guides, this is where games of badminton were played and during conversation periods, a few shuttlecocks were found under the floorboards!
Chastleton House is truly quite a remarkable place, despite its size and status the house comes across in a rather modest way. Perhaps because it has been humbled over the years by its occupant’s money troubles, the house has embraced its fading magnificence, turning the house into a romantic forgotten land.
Chastleton House is reopens to the public in March 2017, for more information visit: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chastleton-house