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from TeaAntiques.com
Edition One Hundred and Twenty

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Featured Antique - Caughley Spoon Tray, Blue & White 'Pagoda' Pattern Decoration, Elongated Hexagonal Shape, 'S' Caughley Maker's Mark, c1785

A rare and charming Caughley spoon tray, made at the famous Caughley factory c1785. This delightful spoon tray is beautifully shaped. It has vertically moulded sides to its rim and is of an elongated hexagonal shape. It is beautifully decorated with the blue and white 'Pagoda' pattern and embellished with rich honey coloured decoration.

More details of this item and other tea related antiques can be found by visiting my web site at www.TeaAntiques.com.

Chastleton House, Cotswolds

"Unchanged for over 400 years", that was how the house was described to me as I entered the Great Hall.

Although building the present house was started in 1607, a house has stood on this site for many years before the present one. In fact the previous house, owned by the Catesby family, had a link to the Gunpowder Plot as the family were the masterminds of the plot in 1605 to blow up the King and Houses of Parliament. The family fled to Lincolnshire after the plot was foiled, which allowed Walter Jones to buy the property and knock it down!

Walter Jones was in his fifties at this time, having risen from the wool and cloth trade, law and then entered Parliament. He wanted a house as he saw befitted his status and be able to join the Gentry. He set about creating the Chastleton much as we see today.

Front elevationWalter's eldest son had 13 children and his eldest, Arthur, inherited Chastleton in 1656. He was a Royalist during the Civil War, which meant that fines were levied against him at the end of the war. This caused the family to have financial difficulties from that point onwards. Hence the house has remained largely unchanged - due to lack of money.

Wind forward a few hundred years until 1930 when the family owner, Irene Whitmore-Jones couldn't rent the house out and so she had to move back in using only a couple of rooms and only two staff. In order to make some money, she opened the house to the public, wrote a guidebook and led tours of the house herself. The final owners were Alan Clutton-Brock and his wife Barbara Foy, who were forced to sell the house in 1991, thus ending the same family owning the house for nearly 400 years.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund bought the house and its contents, Front elevation - what no front door?much of which was original to the house. The house was handed to the National Trust, who are preserving the house - not restoring it. What we see today, if somewhat faded, is a good reflection of what it would have been when it was built - a true time capsule.

As I approached the house I was surprised not to see a front door, perhaps I had arrived at the back or side of the property, but no, the front door is up the steps and to the left! This was deliberately designed to keep the symmetry of the façade.

 

 

The tour of the house takes in all four floors, includes parlours, bedrooms, closets, kitchens, a great hall and a long gallery... I shall cover just a few of them here.

My visit was very quick as I was returning from the Black Country Museum and had visited my Sister-in-Law in nearby Morton-in-Marsh. As i was on my way home when I saw the sign for Chastleton and just had to visit.

The Great Hall

The great fireplace in the Great Hall at Chastleton HouseIt was typical of medieval houses that there should be a Great Hall. Besides the status that it indicated, it was also the place where everyone ate - with a strict hierarchy about where one sat for meals! On one wall is a huge fireplace with a fire burning within the hearth. The stonework above the fire shows the effects of centuries of fires being lit.

In the centre of the room is an oak table - although the one in place now is not the original mentioned in the 1633 inventory; it was made in the 19th century - albeit of older wood.

The Great Hall at Chastleton House

 

The White Parlour

Beneath the Caribou antlers attached to a wooden head and painted body of a deer is a door from The Great Hall into the White Parlour. This room was a "break away" room for receiving guests in cosy splendour. The room is laid for afternoon tea but it is clear that the room was also used as a small library and genteel games room.

 

The Great Parlour

After the Great Hall and White Parlour, I entered the Great Parlour, which was set for dinner. Mid-18th glasses glasses with delightful air-and-white enamel twist stemsThe refectory table is early 17th century and was set with cream salt-glazed pottery, part of a 40-piece dessert service made in Staffordshire in the mid-1700s. The glasses are mid-18th century have delightful air-and-white enamel twist stems. On the wall a Teniers tapestry recounts a pastoral scene; it was probably woven in Lille, France, in about 1730.

19th century stained and painted glass windowsdepicting Charles I and Henrietta Maria at Castelton House

Great Parlour set for dinner A Teniers tapestry recounts a pastoral scene; it was probably woven in Lille, France, in about 1730

 

In the far corner of the room was an open door to a secret place - well, it is not shown on the floor plan. As I glanced through the door, I saw a haphazard display of household implements, bottles, tools, and a stairway to... I will never know. It was an intriguing glimpse into the state of the house - more displays like this would be revealed around the house as part of the preservation.

 an intriguing glimpse into the state of the house  another intriguing glimpse into the state of the house     

Staircases

Chastleton House - The West StaircaseThere are two staircases, each attached to the side of the house, one on the west and one on the east. The West Staircase was designed with the household and servants in mind and was simple in design. The East Staircase was for visitors, linking the the high status rooms: The Great Chamber, The Great Parlour and The Long Gallery. It was embellished with decoration including carved obelisks above and below the newel posts. The East Staircase only services three floors - the high status areas - while the West Staircase descended to the basement as well - it is this staircase that we shall descend later to leave the building via the basement.

 

The basement support to the East Staircase at Chastleton HouseThe picture on the right is reminiscent of the Hypostyle Hall at the Karnak Temple in Luxor. It is, in fact, the basement support to the East Staircase!

And it is up the East Staircase we travel on the way to the Fettiplace Room on the first floor.

The Fettiplace Room

The Fettiplace RoomThis was a high status room used by Anne Fettiplace who married Walter Jones's son, Henry. This marriage was a good link between an old established landed family and the clothier Jones family.

On the walls are three large tapestries, probably from Oudenaarde, East Flanders. They depict scenes from The Story of Jacob, Genesis 33. Originally, the bed within the room was hung with taffeta curtains and quilt. The bed we see today is a 19th century half tester but it still has 18th century hangings of blue crewelwork embroidery.

Attached to the bedroom is a closet - a small room for privacy - that has a very striking 17th century hanging embroidery that takes up one wall. It comprises twelve colours in a vivid flamestitch.

The Great Chamber

The Great ChamberThe Great Chamber was another high status room and is decorated in high style that will be seen by visitors. It is located adjacent to the East Staircase as part of the 17th century "visitor experience". The ceiling is in high-relief plasterwork with patterns of ribs and flowers; it is quite striking. Beneath the ceiling is a frieze of 24 painted roundels depicting the twelve Old Testament prophets and the twelve sibyls of antiquity.

A late 17th century Chinese lacquer cabinet is on a stand made of carved and gilded pine, in the style of Charles IIThe stone chimneypiece displays the arms of Walter Jones and Elinor Pope, his wife. The most impressive pieces of furniture are two late 17th century Chinese lacquer cabinets the one in the picture on the right is on a stand made of carved and gilded pine, in the style of Charles II.

Within the glass box on the table, see picture below, is a collection of "Jacobite" glasses - drawn trumpet with air twist stems and engraved with a rose, compass and oak leaves. Chastleton's fourth Henry Jones was a member of the "Jacobite Cycle of the White Rose Club" and the club's motto 'Fiat' (let it be so) is engraved on the glass. It is unusual to have a collection of these glasses because they were usually smashed after the Jacobite toast.

A collection of "Jacobite" glasses - drawn trumpet with air twist stems and engraved with a rose, compass and oak leaves

The Sheldon Room

The Sheldon RoomThis room was the bedroom of Barbara Clutton-Brook, née Foy, who was the last owner of Chastleton. It is sparsely furnished with a few personal effects; this was one of a handful of rooms in which she lived in her final days before the property was sold.

The tapestries on the walls are also probably made in Oudenaarde, East Flanders. They depict the planetary gods and their zodiac signs. The three tapestries show all the planets apart from Venus and Mercury. It is assumed that these would be on the fourth tapestry that never arrived at Chastleton.

The room is named after the Sheldon family coat of arms above the giant fireplace. It is thought that Ralph Sheldon had a friendship with Walter Jones, the original owner of Chastleton. The Sheldon family established the English Tapestry industry and this might have been of interest to Walter Jones as he was involved in the wool and cloth industry himself.

 

 

The Cavalier Room

The Cavalier RoomAttached to the room is a secret closet in which Arthur Jones, The Cavalier, was hiding whilst a detachment of Parliamentary cavalry slept in the Cavalier Room itself. This was following the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

The fireplace in The Cavalier RoomMost of the decoration is mid-19th century. The chimneypiece is late 17th century and the quilted bedspread and pillow cases date from this period.

The Long Gallery

The Long GalleryOn the top floor is the Long Gallery taking up the entire length of the North side of the building. A Long Gallery was an essential room in this period - it allowed exercise to be taken during inclement weather; it also allowed the display of family portraits. This wonderful gallery is 22m long and is the longest barrel-vaulted ceiling from this period in England.

The gallery was sparsely furnished, a very long hobby horse can be seen in the fireplace - it was long enough to support about four young children.

A horse riding trainer is also in the gallery - it was a sprung leather seat with handles. Dating from the mid-18th century, it allowed for horse riding to be simulated to keep the muscles exercised when horse-riding wasn't possible - the very early home gym?

 

The Museum Room

The final room on this floor is The Museum Room - an unfinished room with no ceiling in places, rafters showing and no wall plastering. This space is used to display a curious selection of things from the collection of Chastleton items, including fragments of pottery, glass, tailors' dummies, commode, etc. found in the house and grounds.

Returning to the ground down the West Staircase

A large birdcage on a landing of the West StaircaseThe final landing of the West Staircase at Chastleton HouseThe West Staircase was intended for the staff and family to use and runs all four floors, from the kitchen in the basement right up to the top floor - often called the "back stairs". It was this staircase that was used to transport me from the top floor down to the Old Kitchen in the basement. As mentioned earlier, it was a plain staircase that had functional use, for example, instead of an open space in the centre of the staircase, the space is taken up with store cupboards all the way down.

 

The "New" Kitchen

The entire west staircase is very light with large windows at all levels - there is a large birdcage on one of the landings! No doubt to keep some exotic birds.

On the Ground Floor was the Butler's Pantry and a small indicator board can be seen. It only has six indicators and is the third electric indicator system that had been installed over time.On the Ground Floor was the Butler's Pantry and a small servants'  indicator board can be seen. It only has six indicators and is the third electric indicator system that had been installed over time. Maybe the low number of indicators is an indication of how little of the house was used in its later years.

Adjacent to the indicator board is the "New" Kitchen. This probably dates from the 1950s and was still in use until the house was sold in 1991 to the National Trust.

The Old Kitchen and Bell Corridor

Luckily the Old Kitchen at Chastleton has not been excessively modernised over time - even though it was still in use in the mid-20th century. It still has its stone sink, original working surfaces, shelving, etc. The cooking range is the only major item that has been updated - but that itself look like its been there since antiquity! The fireplace in which the range is located is Jacobean - hence the huge size. Also, above the fireplace can still be seen the remains of the spit mechanism that would have originally been used in front of the huge open fire to cook all manner of foods. Standing in front of the range is a clockwork "mini-spit" that would be loaded with a small meat joint and the mechanism moved close to the range or fire so that the meat would roast.

 The Old Kitchen - the range The Old Kitchen - storage shelevs and work surfaces

The Bell Corridor - bells The Bell Corridor - bells and hanging gameImmediately outside the Old Kitchen is the Bell Corridor - with the remains of the early mechanical bell calling system that would have been linked by a mechanical wire system to bell pulls in the relevant rooms.

The Dairy Court and the Basement Floor

The Dairy CourtVeiw from the Diary Court to the sky at Chastleton HouseFinishing off the house tour on this level necessitated going out into the vast open area called the Dairy Court. The entire centre of the house was an open space - essentially the house has a huge square atrium that provides air and light to all levels of the house.

Besides the Old Kitchen and Bell Corridor already mentioned, around the Dairy Court is the the Old Dairy, and Housekeepers Room - that guarded access to the Pantry and Game Larder. To leave the house it is necessary to visit the Beer Cellar.

It was usual in the 17th century that each estate would make its own beer and ale and Chastleton is no exception. At one end of the beer cellar is access to the supporting pillars of the East Staircase - see picture earlier in this Tea Clipper.

The East elevationOnce outside, I walked round the building to admire the excellent brickwork and stonework. The rear elevation is as impressive the front.

The East Staircase - from the outsideOn the East elevation of the house, the East Staircase is easily seen - almost looking like it was added to the building at a later date. The windowless area at the base of the staircase houses the four pillars that support the structure.

 

The Grounds

The grounds are not extensive any more; a small arrangement of gardens around the house and the field opposite the main entrance are all that exists of the original setting. 

The gardens vary from formal topiary in the "Best Garden", to wild flowers amongst which are weeds! There is a gnarled old mulberry tree, alongside which I am standing, that has to be hundreds of years old.

Two croquet lawns were laid out by Walter Whitmore-Jones in the 1860s on which croquet could still be played. Indeed, croquet and Chastleton have a relationship as the original rules were codified there in 1866 by Walter; Chastleton is considered to be the birthplace of competitive croquet.

Tea Room

There is no dedicated tea room at the property. Instead tea and a small selection of cakes were served from the adjacent church;  chairs were dotted around the graveyard on which to sit to drink the tea. I decided to visit the nearby Fosse Way garden centre for a much better choice of fare.

 


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