Yorkshire contains the best concentration of documented commissions from the Thomas Chippendale workshop. Probably this is due to his family links with the county: he was born in the West Riding market town of Otley in 1718, and lived there until his move to St Martin’s Lane, London, at the age of thirty.
The houses that contain his furniture were all either built or ‘modernised’ in the 1760s and 70s, some by local architects such as James Paine or John Carr, and some with striking interior schemes by Robert Adam. These provide a complementary backdrop to Chippendale’s effortlessly dignified ensembles.
The furniture that we will be looking at varies from the simple and utilitarian, and sometimes engagingly old fashioned, to the most glamorous and expensive that Chippendale ever made. Analysing furniture at close quarters, we will learn how to identify a Chippendale piece (he never marked or stamped his furniture) from its construction and tell-tale features that characterise his workshop practice. For example, chairs are turned upside down to see the glue cramp cuts and setting out marks that his journeyman cabinet makers made, and the distinctive screw holes in the frames to fix a piece inside its packing case for the journey north by road and sea.
At all locations, we view Chippendale’s furniture in its original context; accompanied by ‘Chinese’ wallpaper and accessories, for instance, in the Best bedroom at Nostell; surrounded by Grand Tour treasures and Gobelins tapestries at Newby; or simply en parade in the lavish Adam interiors at Harewood.
Darlington. Leave Darlington Railway Station by coach at 1.30pm for a very special visit to a private home which contains a little-known collection of furniture from the mature Director period. Overnights Leeds, where all four nights are spent.
Temple Newsam, Nostell Priory. Temple Newsam House, one of the grandest ‘branch museums’ of any city, houses the collection of The Chippendale Society among an unparalleled repertoire of furniture and decorative art. Nostell Priory is a large Palladian house by architect James Paine; Robert Adam remodelled the hall and the principal rooms and Chippendale and his son furnished them. They show the designer’s development from his Director period to a fully fledged Neoclassical manner, including some of his finest Chinoiserie furniture.
Newby Hall, Leeds. Newby is a 17th-cent. house with 18th-cent. wings and an interior remodelled by Robert Adam for which Chippendale provided furniture. The Tapestry room is a harmonious combination of Adam’s architecture and decoration, French looking glasses and tapestries and Chippendale’s mature period furniture. The chairs and sofas are the only ones by him to retain their original upholstery. An exhibition commemorates the 300th anniversary, an unprecedented retrospective which is filling gaps in our knowledge of the man and his furniture.
Burton Constable. Burton Constable contains one of the most coherent surviving schemes of furniture and interior decoration by Thomas Chippendale. William Constable, a cultured and discerning patron, modernised his Elizabethan seat in the 1760s, creating a striking suite of rooms furnished by the Chippendale workshop. The house also contains items from William Constable’s town house in Mansfield Street, Westminster, which were removed to Yorkshire in 1784.
Harewood. Generally recognised as Thomas Chippendale’s most magnificent, indeed ostentatious, commission, Harewood House was furnished ‘from top to bottom’ by his workshop over a period of thirty years. This John Carr house with principal rooms decorated by Robert Adam presented Chippendale with an opportunity to excel himself. The coach takes you to Leeds Railway Station by 3.00pm.
Price – per person
Two sharing: £1,470. Single occupancy: £1,630.
Hotel accommodation; breakfasts, one lunch and three dinners with wine, water and coffee; transport by private coach; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.
Quebecs: a centrally-located, 4-star hotel housed in a Grade II-listed former Liberal Club. i
Unavoidably there is quite a lot of walking on this tour and it would not be suitable for anyone with difficulties with everyday walking and stair-climbing. Coaches can rarely park near the houses, many of the parks and gardens are extensive and the houses visited don’t have lifts. Average distance by coach per day: 79 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.