Monday, 7 May 2012

Arts and Crafts

When I say that I mean the Movement not the activity.  In the last few weeks my DH and I have been lucky enough to visit two beautiful houses built or, in the case of our first port of call, re-modelled, in the style that has become known as Arts and Crafts.  

The first property we visited on a chilly April day was Wightwick Manor (pronounced Wittik) 3 miles from the centre of Wolverhampton in the West Midlands of the UK.  This property is owned by the National Trust and sadly, because of the many important paintings housed at the Manor and for other copyright reasons, no photography is allowed inside.  A very extensive history of the house can be read here. It was amazing to be able to see close-to work of such Pre- Raphaelite artist as Rosetti and Burne-Jones.

We did manage to take a few photographs of the exterior of the building:

Walking up from the car park you are greeted with this beautiful stone wall and a view of the black and white buiilding. 

The building itself is beautifully elegant and no detail has been missed in its external decoration.  The bay window above looks out over a yew tree walk which sadly had been cut right back before our visit so will take some time to recover its former glory.

I would imagine these tiles above are terracotta.  Click on them to see the detail.

This beautiful carved wood is on the main entrance porch.  Don't you just love the bat above and the sweet little owl?

All visits to Wightwick Manor operate on a timed escorted/guided basis and our visit was enriched by the history and anecdotes relayed to us by the very knowledegable guide.  It was fascinating to see beautiful William Morris wall coverings as they were originally intended, with the soft furnishings matching.  I'm pleased to say I've found a National Trust source of photos and information about Wightwick Manor here.

Photographs of this beautiful house can only go so far to convey its elegance and beauty, you really need to visit for yourself if you possible can.  Andrew Lloyd Webber visited Wightwick for an ITV television documentary and was moved to tears by its beauty and atmosphere.  He was particularly taken by the painting by Edward Burne-Jones  'Love Among the Ruins' which can be seen in the Great Parlour.  He said of his visit “It’s alive, this place is not some museum at all, it’s about a whole family’s passion for Victorian art – art collected in the thirties and forties when art of this kind which was just valueless.”

Not that you can see much but this above is a view of the stained glass in the entrance hall, taken from outside.  I do find the structure of  stained glass windows interesting.  These particular windows were much more traditional in design than the rest of the house. 

On a more intimate level these excerpts from the wages records of the domestic staff give an interesting insght into the economy of the time.  The tour included a visit to the kitchens and the Servants Hall which were very much more basic but seemed nonetheless comfortable.

I was tempted into a little shopping, as you do,  and had to buy the postcard of the porcelain fish plaque which had beautiful stylised fishes and wonderful movement lines in the background.  

While we were in Lancashire we visited Blackwell Hall which was a much more informal visit and I'll write about that in my next post as I really do need to get to bed as we are out again tomorrow!  We are going to Lavenham and Long Melford in Suffolk, two places that I have been wanting to visit for along time.  Hopefully there will be more photos to show for that visit.


Gailsman said...

Looks a great place to visit. And I suppose having an escorted visit, you couldn't sneak a pic or two, as I might have done.

Enjoy Suffolk. A very pleasant county.

imac said...

Its the way you tell em, lol. Great pics and post my sweet.

ju-north said...

Love places like this - a feast for the eyes!

Clare Wassermann said...

Well here's a belated hello. I live a mile from Wightwick!!! Wonderful huh?

Su said...

I do love the Arts and Crafts movement, they look intersting places to visit.

Enjoy Long Melford and Lavenham, I was in Lavenham yesterday!

Moogsmum said...

What a fascinating place, Julie - thanks for sharing your visit. I went to uni in Wolverhampton for three years and never visited Wightwick....mind you, I was probably too busy visiting the student union bar at the time!


Corrine at said...

Oh wonderful owl, and stained glass. Lucky you. xox

Peneller said...

love the photos Julie. you are a busy lady what with all your trips! I'm glad you're having a good time!

Heather said...

What a wonderful house and stunning carved details. I am a great fan of Arts and Crafts.

Linda said...

I went there last year.....its a GORGEOUS place!! And I have the exact same photo of the bat - so cute!
Loved the Burne-Jones.
Didn't know about ALW's visit though; very interesting.....