Sunday, March 20, 2016

Berrington Hall - the perfect Neo-classical country house

I'm sorry for such a long absence between posts but sometimes real life gets in the way of a virtual, blogging life.  I recently heard from my Australian Penpal though reminding me of my duties and I wanted to share his favorite country house (and it may JUST be mine as well) - Berrington Hall in rural England.
Designed by noted architect Henry Holland between 1778 and 1781, it was built as a house to retire into for politician Thomas Harley.  Holland was the son of a well known builder so had excellent connections to politicians and the aristocracy needing his services and had a distinguished career.
The house itself isn't overly large -you can see it in the floorplan above towards the bottom -with a large service courtyard with dependencies housing the servants and kitchen spaces. Now the courtyard houses a cafe, giftshops, etc, as the house has been owned by the National Trust since 1957.
The lives of these types of service courtyards today are much different than they would have been in the 18th century: muddy andfull of livestock; the domain of servants. Now they're pretty places to have lunch and buy a postcard or two!
One of the most important features of the house isn't architectural at all; the grounds were designed by Capability Brown (who was Holland's father-in-law!).
Lets go into the entry hall; a small but exquisite Neoclassical space where the walls are as delicate as a piece of Wedgwood Jasperware.
The detailing throughout the house is superb in Neoclassical style, similar but less garish than Adam style, and all seemingly beautifully maintained. The drawing room is full of very fine, pretty furniture - nothing extraordinary and imposing such as at some country palaces like Chatsworth but just a pretty country house for living in.
I think the scale of these rooms are perfect for living: one can see themselves reading a book or having a cup of tea alone without feeling dwarfed by cavernous space but could easily have a few dozen guests as well.
 Each room has spectacular ceilings.
 Even the doorknobs are beautiful.
The dining room seems to be missing a carpet, all the better to show off those gorgeous wide wood floorboards.
 The art collection is well known and these rooms serve as picture galleries as much as living spaces.
 Even the ceilings have art!
 Notice the Adam styled zinc grates in the neoclassical marble fireplace.
 Everything is just pretty; is that such a bad thing?
 So many details that you can just keep zooming in on each and every part of the building and find something new.
 Of course I'm in love with the handpainted Meissen porcelain and silver on the table.
The family would have different rooms for different times of the day such as this library above with beautiful neoclassical plaques decorating the wall and ceiling.
If you visit Berrington they also have superb collections of antique clothing and all of the service spaces have been fully restored and are open (sometimes the most interesting parts of these house museums).
 Everything is just lovely.
 The ceiling may be my favorite part of this room.
 A small boudoir on the first floor has the fabulous niche seen above - a private space for the lady of the house.
 The beautiful sitting room here is where casual breakfasts and family meals would be held.
 The piece-de-resistance however is the stairhall.
The skylight floods the interior of the structure with natural light and is decorated as thoughtfully as a wedding cake (and not in the nasty Victorian manner)
The details are picked out in different colors but in a soft hue with no large contrasts - making for a lovely subtle environment. I mean as subtle as gilding can be!
The sad thing is that the prettiest room in the house is simply for passing through although would be in constant use so at least thoroughly enjoyed.
 Notice how the stone treads are so delicate they appear to float; heavily cantilevered from the walls. The art of stair building can be incredible but seldom do you find stairs so well done.
 Not a bad hallway to pass through numerous times a day, no?
Notice the service stair on the left above on the 2nd floorplan adjacent to the main stair.  The family wouldn't want to share this gorgeous space with servants of course. 
Plenty of cozy bedrooms line the 2nd floor for weekend house parties - thats what country house living is all about don't forget!  After this brief tour I think we can see why Berrington Hall is one of penpal Neil's favorite houses and reminds me that I need to plan a trip to the country houses of Britain soon!


Sarah Bouchard said...

Gorgeous! Love the ceilings and the staircase!

Unknown said...

This is absolutely the epitome of taste. It's hard to imagine that houses this beautiful are still around and furnished so extraordinarily. Someone had some serious vision going on when they put this together.

Unknown said...

Are the columns faux painted? If so, an extraordinary job. If not, WOW those are some serious columns. The tonality of the color scheme is delicate, but incredibly well coordinated. Absolute perfection.

John J. Tackett said...

One of my favorites, too! Loved seeing all the great photos!
_ The Devoted Classicist

Bob Kerr said...

You had me from dependencies! Oh, and the stairway is magnificent. Great post...good to see you back!!!

Carol said...

Your penpal Neil has good taste. I love the ornate ceilings and all the beautiful marble.

Stephilius said...

Just... delicious! : )

Kevin Graves said...

I adore NeoClassical houses! this home is so liveable Oma human scale even though grand. The colors and trims are so beautiful. I love the color of the outside. Thank you for posting this grand old home.

WJR said...

Great post to return to after yur hiatus!

Kathleen Stover said...

The bedroom is my favorite room in this grand house - so cozy! Thanks for posting - viewing these beautiful photos put me in the mood to watch the final season of Downton Abbey. :)

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

As UK country houses go this is a lovely proportioned home in that original Italian Palladian tradition. Just enough razzamatazz and clean lines - it could do with a nice external refurb to really show it off but then there are roofs to think of!!

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Scale of the home, although the decoration is still elaborate (tasteful still especially in colours), makes it seem cosy... which to me, personally, is the English country house at its best...

Almost never comment but love your blog.... Can't wait for your trip to the U.K.... or Ireland;).