When I went to the York show (7th June) we decided to make a weekend of it and pootled off to the lovely city of York on the sunshiny Saturday preceding the show.
After a picnic lunch off we went to visit the terrific Fairfax House.
Just as I had been doing in the Georgian House in Edinburgh the previous month I was on the hunt for various details of 1830 life. Not so simple.
The house was originally early 18th century so its actual construction was fine for my house which would have been built around the same time. The 'inhabited' time period shown there was about seventy years too early. That said, changes were decidedly slower back then and a lot was 'still around' by 1830. It was the right sort of size house to equate with the Philips sisters' house in Lyme Regis but, in comparison to theirs, it is very grand.
The house has a wonderful history of being a private house for nearly two hundred years and then a gentlemen's club, followed by being used as offices. In the first world war it was co-opted into military use and by 1919 it was completely transformed into a cinema and dance hall. This, of course, led to a comprehensive removal of a lot of its internal structures. Fifty years later it was finally 'saved' and a wonderful restoration undertaken to try to get it back to the original state.
I was thrilled to find that its real entrance was exactly like mine. I say 'real entrance' because you actually enter the building by way of the cinema entrance. If you do visit, take a moment to get your bearings when you arrive in the vestibule as this is where you would have entered the house in its heyday. It restores Georgian symmetry and the overriding sensibilities of the period.
The inner hall behind the vestibule was the main hall of the house with lovely staircases leading off on the left hand side (hidden here). We can see stairs beyond in a further hallway which were much less important and probably not used for visitors.
This house has the best and most interesting ceilings I have ever seen in a house of this size. They were incredible room after room. Bizarrely they had been preserved by being painted over with black gloss paint. Preservation was not the decorators intention at the time and it was a real challenge to remove.
|Milton on the ceiling|
I am very cross with myself that I never noticed that the only bust on the ceiling which I recorded was Milton now I am left wondering if my hero Andrew Marvel was up there somewhere. He wrote for an earlier Fairfax and 'Upon Appleton House' featured greatly in my English degree - indeed in my final exam! Sadly the Fairfax 'I knew' was a hundred years earlier and his Appleton House is no more.
I have 181 photos to choose from here each one equally delicious - how do I choose?
|fabric sample book|
I hope the ladies were as stuck for choice as I am.
|looking at fireplaces|
|and their lovely slim surrounds|
|trying to see how the fire grate sits in the box|
This looks a bit post Rumford to me and so not in the period they are covering but it is in mine so helped me. Wouldn't want to pick up those fire irons though when the fire was lit!! They didn't sit on the dogs.
|a house with fenders|
This is also a rare house in that several of its fires had fenders. It drives me crazy in stately homes - mostly they do not have fenders. Primarily wooden houses plus , wooden structures, rolling logs or coals would be a fire waiting to happen. I wonder if it is because the generations working on these things now are so far removed from such things as lighting a fire.
I was born in 1945 but even then there were enough connections backwards to reach into Victorian ways of being and enough tips and methods still being passed on down. We seem to have reached a stopping place post sixties where such things got swept away. Rant over.
|a gilded pie|
|fish and birds on a range|
I think I will be on a lookout for a contemporary cook book next.
|inner hall with main staircase|
I'll leave you with a lovely piece of plaster-work and a strict instruction to get yourself to York for an overnighter. Make a date in your diary for the weekend of 21/22 November. The York dolls house show is on the 22nd. You can do it very frugally if you stay a little outside the city (about fifteen minutes in our case) in a Premier Inn which did very well. Do try to eat at Trinacria or at least pick up one of their ice creams. It is just steps away from the show near the race course. I can honestly say it was the best meal I have had in a long time and I am a bit of a nit-picky foodie.