This room, due to its numerous large windows, is light-filled and spacious, the delicate shades of blue, lilac, silver and gold creating an oasis of modernity without losing its historical authenticity. The walls are covered in grey de Gournay silk wallpaper, a choice inspired by the late Lady FitzWalter’s love of grey. Large lilac and navy settees surround a coffee table, with velvet-clad armchairs elegantly modern in silver and lilac dotted around the room. Blue and white Japanese porcelain ornaments the drawing room, a reminder of the professional interests of William Plumptre, one of the sons of the 21st Baron FitzWalter, who trained in Japan and is now a leading British potter. Equipped with a Sonos sound system, this room has all the contemporary commodities guests may require.
The drawing room is filled with original furniture, pieces that have survived many familial generations. For example, there is a yew wood Ince & Mayhew cabinet, a bespoke piece made for the stately home in the 1700s by renowned British upholsterers and cabinet makers William Ince and John Mayhew whose company was founded in 1759. Their work can now be found in a few select museums and stately homes across the country. Above the grey marble fireplace is an antique clock and throughout the room are many small wooden tables, original pieces of furniture from the house before its 2015 restoration.
Family portraits line the walls, such as that of Jane Austen’s favourite niece, Fanny Bridges. Fanny, the daughter of Jane’s brother Edward, who married into the family, was one of Jane’s most frequent correspondents. It is believed she was the inspiration for Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price.
Another prominent portrait by Francis Cotes has its place on the wall, that of Sir Brook Bridges 3rd Baronet, who was responsible for the first enlargement and most notable alteration of the house in the 1700s. The presence of previous owners of the house is palpable; for example, in the books on the shelves, mostly printed in the 1800s, family crests and names appearing on the first page on hand-crafted marble paper are not unusual. For instance, ‘The History of Modern Europe’, one of the shelves’ relics, was printed in London in 1818 and has the name Brook William Bridges, the 4th baronet, in the front. Other books about gardens and country houses, both old and modern, fill the shelves of this tranquil communal room.
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