On Wednesday we went to Arbury Hall, which is a stunning mansion built to imitate the Gothic style that we have been looking at the past couple of weeks. The house started out as an 11th C. priory until the dissolution of the monks where it fell into disrepair. A rich lawyer from London bought the estate and then turned it into a Elizabethan manor house, then it passed to the Newdigate family who still reside there today.
The outside of the house is still in the fashion of the Elizabethan manor house.
But the inside is where the high class money laden British aristocrat vibe really comes out. No pictures were allowed to be taken inside, but if you google image search King Henry VII Chapel Westminster Abbey, the ceiling of that is what is imitated on the inside of most of the rooms in the house.
The day started off with walking around the grounds and taking all the pictures we could of the outside and the grounds. The grounds consists of the cows seen in the last post and a garden. Other than that it is mostly farm land and countryside.
After the walk of the grounds we had lunch in the guest/stable house which is the other building you can see in the pictures above.
After a very nice lunch and some tea we had our tour of the interior. Out tour consisted of partly a family tree history lesson and a lesson on what parts of the house was built when. I shall spare the aristocratic details and focus on the architectural side of things. Though I will mention that on some side table there was a signed picture of the Queen and Phillip from not too long ago. So as it was joked about by some of us we thought we could detect a slightly posh accent in the way the cows were mooing.
As renovations were starting in the house, they began in the small chapel. This began in the late 17th C. and was not plastered and vaulted like the other rooms, but had stone carvings in it like the ones found in Southwell or Lincoln. Once completed the chapel was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Next in the school room the first of the plastered pendant vault ceilings was seen. In the time that the renovations we taking place, the mid 18th C., it was fashionable to go on he grand tour of Europe as a young gentleman and bring back items and ideas for your house. Also in this time is when Gothic architecture was making a comeback in popularity. As seen at Shobdon below, they were playing with creating an idealized version of Gothic architecture.
The ceilings at Arbury were designed to imitate the high Gothic pendant vaults and other parts of the house imitated other features of Gothic as well. As we progressed from the school room to the sitting room to the saloon, the ceilings got more and more intricate. The other parts of the house that imitated Gothic were the fireplaces. The fireplaces had mantels that referenced the great Gothic tombs. Inset into some of the mantels were small carved plates, probably taken from Italy during a grand tour. At this time I was busy looking at all the old books in the book cases, but I heard mention that either these plates or ones similar were inspiration for the Wedgwood plates. As we went through it was good to get into the heads of the aristocrats of the time. The way they acted by taking something that was perceived as old fashioned and out of date and put it back into the spotlight shows the progression of architecture history from medieval Gothic to Gothic Revival, which is the subject of the next post.
It was a very nice day in the country side looking at a very beautiful old mansion. It might not have been as rich in the actual history of architecture, but it was rich in the cultural side of architecture. Architecture does not progress without cultural changes and different societal preferences. What Arbury Hall is is a bridge between the Old Gothic that was seen as unnecessary and ugly, to the Gothic revival period in which a new brand was created for English architecture.