Monday, 2 January 2012

whitehern revisited

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Back in the summer
, I wrote that my family and I had attended an outdoor concert at, and toured the historic house of Whitehern. I've done a lot of historic house tours, but Whitehern was undoubtedly my favourite, mainly because our excellent guide told us the family history in minute, gossipy, and sometimes gory detail, and it really came alive. We decided to revisit the house over the Christmas season.

The house is "frozen in time" in 1939, but most of the furnishings and features are much older. The family had originally been extremely wealthy, but squandered their wealth and were left poor for many years, with the result that few things changed. The Christmas decorations hark back to the 1880s, and the staff have decorated with a tree and childrens' presents, as though the much-older-at-that-time residents were remembering a past childhood Christmas.

The family history is fascinating and in equal measures frustrating and tragic. It features a patriarch who cut his third wife from his will entirely, a shopaholic, a woman raised on such a strict moral code she left a man for having a drink, a famous politician raised to greatness through the enforced sacrifice of one of his sisters, and a Victorian woman artist. Add to this that they were all absolutely gorgeous, and some of them were certifiably crazy, and you have a heady atmosphere within the deceptively staid exterior of Whitehern house.

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I'll have this library, please!

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the red in the window was created by adding gold to the glass, and the blue by adding cobalt, which was more expensive than gold at the time. So you can imagine how much the dark blue square in the middle cost! This window was one of the purchases of the shopaholic, who was certainly an excellent decorator.

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stockings hung by the chimney with care.

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one of the bedrooms upstairs (the two brothers each got their own while their four sisters had to share one between them)

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and a rather cozy gentleman's lair in the basement

(wearing a vintage coat, See by Chloe dress bought on ebay, sparkly tights, gifted boots, and the same rocking horse necklace as always!)

23 comments:

Terri said...

what a gorgeous home and what interesting stories. I learned to play piano on an instrument very much like the one in the second photo.

Natalie Suarez said...

very cool! love it! xx

natalieoffduty.blogspot.com

chantilly said...

wow, what a beautiful old house (mansion?) christmas decorations from the 1880's?? i would die.

also, your coat is quite excellent, emily :) xx

Is It Secret, Is It Safe said...

These pictures are fantastic! I wish I could visit there, too!
-Katie

Kailey said...

I cannot imagine how beautiful it must have been in person, but these pictures do a wonderful job making you feel like you are there! Also, I'm loving your coat :D

curious constellation said...

This is definitely going on my travel list.

Shybiker said...

Wow, great place. Nice photos. I'm mesmerized by your jacket. Perfect color.

Closet Fashionista said...

That house is so amazing! I could totally see myself living there, haha
http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

Laura said...

Wow...so much drama! It's absolutely gorgeous and the frozen-in-time effect is almost a little eerie, in a good way. And that library is like something out of a dream.

Amber said...

I could just live in that library and be content for the rest of my days. Its so beautiful.

Anthea said...

Absolutely beautiful and fascinating!

Anthea,
Embracing Style

Hannah said...

What an amazing place, and a very troubled family, the coat is adorable! x

Zane said...

wonderful photos

Catita said...

lovely house! such cool place to be with your family!

xoxo
Catita
PS: happy new year sweetie!

Miss Tallulah Porkchop said...

OMG I love it (and your coat!)

Kirstin@CrimsonRosella said...

I tried to get my parents to go here during the holidays because I remember you mentioning how it would be amazing at Christmas time. Well I missed out and am now terribly sorry as it looks adorable! That dollhouse is amazing!

Kirstin@CrimsonRosella said...

P.S- That coat is amazing!

Marja said...

Such lovely photos! Just found your blog and I love it!

Marja <3

Sweet Harvest Moon said...

This is amazing! Beautiful!

caitlin said...

my boyfriend is studying historic preservation so he often drags me around to these historic house tours... but i'm so fascinated by the family stories that i enjoy them just as much as he does! everything was so much more scandalous back then...

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@Caitlin: certainly people were more easily scandalized!

Emily, Resplendent Tranquility said...

Sometimes I think there's nothing lovelier than historic homes decorated for Christmas. The greens and ribbons hanging from the dining room chandelier might just be my favorite details.

Stef / Diversions said...

Beautiful :) It's always nice to see a historic home decked out like the owners just left on an errand and will be back in five :D