When visiting stately homes and beautiful mansions, we always marvel at the wonderfully crafted furniture, the architecture of the house, the wallpaper, the number of books in the library, and imagine what it would have been like to live there.
However, what we often forget to do is look at what we are walking on! Inspired by this really good post from the house team at Knole – http://knolenationaltrust.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/whats-beneath-your-feet/ – I thought we would focus on what your feet walk on when visiting Nostell Priory.
When we thought about which floors/carpets to include in this blog post, we realised the huge amount of different coverings and carpets that there are inside Nostell. We hope you enjoying looking at a few in more detail, with the photos below. (If you click on a picture it will enlarge it so you can have a closer look.)
And remember – next time you visit Nostell, don’t forget to look down, do look down!
Throughout the ground floor there is a stone slate covering. This is now worn away and cracked in many places, which reflects how thousands of visitors over the years can damage even the strongest of materials. Having stone on the ground floor is purely practical, as it is on the ground floor where all of the dust and debris from outside would have landed when the family used the Lower Hall as the main entrance.
Additionally, the ground floor was the servants’ domain, and would be where the servants at Nostell would have hurried around doing dirty jobs. Carpets would have become far too grubby!
I’m a fan of the carpet in the Crimson Bedroom because it really matches the objects in the room, and has a warm red tone which compliments the curtains and bed hangings (which were reproduced after the fire in the 1980s). It is a Feraghan wool carpet with a multiple striped border, made at some point in the nineteeth century.
When you visit Nostell, you’ll probably have noticed the long carpet that follows the visitor route through most of the rooms – this is known as the ‘drugget’. This carpet gets vacuumed every day, as the drugget is where a lot of the dust and dirt which visitors bring in lingers. Nostell’s drugget is a two-tone crimson floral wool pile carpet with an arabesque foliate design and a border along each edge. It was made in the late twentieth century.
The floor in the Top Hall is an interesting one. When visitors enter the Top Hall, there are plenty of well-deserved ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ over the ornate Robert Adam plasterwork, the size of the room, and the extensive view down the vista at the front of the house. However, when visitors look at the floor, there is usually no comment (that’s if people actually look at the floor!)
I feel quite sorry for the Top Hall floor, made from oak floorboards. This is because this floor was not meant to be walked on. Yes, you read correctly!
A drawing from 1776 shows that the intention was to create a striking white and brown marble pavement floor which would reflect the ceiling pattern like it does in other Robert Adam houses such as Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire. The photograph below shows the floor of the Great Hall in Ham House in Surrey, which has a floor similar to that planned for Nostell’s Top Hall.
The Breakfast Room carpet is a modern light beige felt carpet, laid after the fire at Nostell in the 1980s. It’s very simple, and reflects the simplicity of the room. The Breakfast Room is currently a ‘free flow’ room (meaning that visitors are able to walk all around the room) so we wanted something robust and long-lasting. The corner of a rug that you see is one brought in especially for people to walk on, and isn’t a historic rug.
The photograph above shows how delicate the carpets in our collections are – you can see where the seam has split and the carpet is wearing thin. This carpet is in the State Dressing Room, and is a green flowered seamed Brussels wool pile carpet, made at some point between 1850 and 1950.
We hope you’ve enjoyed looking in detail at some of our carpets inside Nostell – which one is your favourite?
The House Team