Tatton Park; Knutsford “If I told you where they were I’d have to kill you” Tatton Park
Having had a very busy and expensive weekend in Manchester, yesterday a friend and I went on an excursion to Tatton Park in Cheshire. Tatton Park is a historic estate owned and maintained by The National Trust, consisting of; The Mansion (Tatton Hall), The Old Hall, 50 acres of gardens, 1000 acres of parkland and a farm. Having previously explored the parkland and farm, we spent the day wandering around the Mansion and Gardens, sadly the Old Hall was closed and so could not peruse the buildings dating back to the 15th Century.
The weather reports were grim, forecasting rain for the entire day, thankfully however the rain poured only whilst I was driving, allowing a lovely walk around the gardens.
The Kitchen Garden
On entering Tatton Park Gardens, you walk through the Walled Kitchen Gardens, they were a little greener this time, with planting of vegetables having begun.
The Rose Garden
Carrying on through the Walled Kitchen Garden, we came to the Rose Garden, home to a variety of rose bushes, a mosaic bench and a tiled pond/pool. To my annoyance, there was a metal fence behind the pool preventing access to the Tower Garden which has been undergoing conservation work for at least a month.
The Japanese Garden
Next on our stroll through the gardens, was the Japanese Garden, not something you would expect in the middle of Cheshire. How realistic is it Morgan? I seem to have missed off “Mount Fuji” however you might just make out the ornamental birds and of course the pretty flowers.
The Italian Garden
To the rear of the Mansion is the Italian Garden, a pretty symmetrical arrangement of bushes, hedging, plants and whatnots with a fountain in the middle. The fountain we thought to be Neptune having a drink of water…
“He’s not doing a very good job of it, look at how much water he is wasting”
However after reading the Tatton Park guide to garden architecture and statuary, it is in fact Triton blowing on a conch shell. According to Georgie, the water pipe is showing at the back of “Neptune” because it was originally meant to be placed in front of something else, and not in the middle of the garden.
Walking down past the fountain towards the edge of the Italian Garden, you get a delightful view of part of the Tatton Park parkland.
Next on the tour of the gardens was the fernery (though in reality the Fernery came before the Italian gardens… poetic licence and all that).
This was a very humid room, full of well.. ferns. At the far end of the Fernery there was a little cave-like area used for storage. After the Fernery we had a glance in the Conservatory, we were not sure whether we should have been in there, as there was a photo shoot taking place with a middle-aged man and a slightly younger woman posing next to a column. The gentleman sounded and looked curiously like Ken Barlow from Coronation Street, not that I watch such tack. I’m sure I said at the time “All soaps are the same, people get married, have affairs and get killed”.
The Leech Pool
Continuing down the Broad Walk, past the Maze and through some bushes, we came across the Leech Pool. Apparently the name “Leech Pool” is relatively new, and I could not ascertain whether there were in fact any leeches in there. Unsurprisingly Georgie did not want to go in for a look. After seeing all the Gardens had to offer we headed towards the entrance to The Mansion.
The Family Entrance
Rather than enter through the Main Entrance, visitors (you and I, not visitors of the Egerton family), enter through what was the Family Entrance. I thought it a pretty sort of room, with light blue painted walls and very nice looking wooden doors leading into the Family Hallway. One thing you will notice (if you have not done so already) about the mansion at Tatton Park, is the use of symmetry, this is due to its Neo-classical design.
The Entrance Hall
Walking through the Family Entrance and into the Card Room, a room to left of the Main Entrance, where visitors of the Egerton family would leave their cards and wait before being announced to the family. I did not take a photo of the Card room, despite the very ornamental clock on the wall and a famous painting, the lady Room Steward was a little intimidating. Exiting the Card Room, you arrive in the Main Entrance Hall.
“I like the horses”
“You mean the griffins?”
“Oh, same thing”
“Yes one is mythical and has a beak”
“Well with my eye sight…”
It is quite a large room, with matching fireplaces and mirrors on either side of the rooms, adding to the symmetry. You can see in the picture, it was a salmon-y coloured room contrasting the darker pillars. Personally I would have had a table in the middle of the room with fresh flowers/plant on, instead of by the wall.
The Staircase Hall & Landing
The Staircase Hall was used for dancing whenever a ball was held at the mansion, with the orchestra playing from the mid-stairway landing. There are no windows in the Staircase Hall, instead the room is lit by two skylights; one oval and one circular. On the first floor landing, a set of ten paintings of The Cheshire Gentlemen are hung on the wall. These created quite a foreboding impression, I could not have those hanging on my landing, glaring at me from every angle as I walk up the stairs. Interestingly, because of the Neo-classical design of the house, and obsession with symmetry several of the upstairs doors are fake, yet still open, one of these can be found on the right of the upstairs hallway.
The Drawing Room
The Music and Drawing Rooms are lined with cherry coloured damask silk. You can see a little of the silk has been torn when removing a painting from the wall. The Countess Egerton or Lady Anna (a later Lady of the house) must have turned in her grave when that happened, I know I would have. The Dining Room is a suitably large room, with high ceilings and tall mirrors to reflect the sunlight in the day and candles at night, making the room seem even larger. I’ve no doubt Mrs Elton would compare this room to Maple Grove, even though it would most likely be more akin to Lady Catherine’s Drawing Room at Rosings than Maple Grove.
“I didn’t know that drawing-room is shortened from withdrawing room”
“Yes, the women leaving the men after dinner, I thought you read Jane Austen”
“I’ve only read one and a spoof so far”
“You make it seem that you’ve read them all”
As you enter the Drawing Room from the Music Room, there are two paintings; one on either side of the door, they are views of Venice by Venetian artist Canaletto dated from 1730. Both these paintings (I should have taken photos in hindsight) are very realistic and very pretty, I recommend googling them.
Speaking of pretty, the ceiling in the Drawing Room at Tatton Park is very decorative. I like looking at ceilings in buildings.
One thing that struck me when glancing around the Drawing Room and later the library, was the amount of bird related carved furnishings and decorative objects. There were a number of tables with birds as legs and in the library two stuff birds, one under a large table and a second by the fireplace next to, of all things… an iPad, very technologically forward these Egertons were = ].
The Mansion at Tatton Park houses over 10,000 books, 8,000 of these can be found in the Library, which looks out onto Italian Garden. The Library has first editions of two Jane Austen novels, though when I enquired about them I was told the following:-
“if it told you where they were, I’d have to kill you. There are 8,000 books in this room alone, it’d take you a while to find them” – Charming lady indeed!
The library had a few curious objects, most notably the straddle chair.
I’m quite sure I would find that comfortable, surely one’s back would hurt after a while? Moving on from the Library, we came to the Dining Room.
The Dining Room
The Dining Room which dates back to 1760 and faces the Italian Garden, is set for dessert. There are 4 pineapple’s placed on the table. “One can never have too many pineapples at a dinner party”, I don’t really like them though, so I may give them a miss.
In 1887, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited, dined and stayed at Tatton Hall, during their visit to Manchester to open the Royal Jubilee Exhibition in honour of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The Prince and Princess described the Dining Room as “brilliant in the extreme”.
There is an empty frame on the wall to the right of the table, this is where the portrait of Alice (second wife of Wilbraham Egerton, 1st and last Earl Egerton of Tatton), would normally hang. The painting instead was moved to one of the bedrooms for restoration (see photo below).
The gold in the painting looked very realistic, we didn’t know whether it was gold leaf though. It’s a very pretty dress.
The Yellow Drawing Room
The Yellow Drawing Room was the informal family room used by the family when not entertaining guests in the larger formal rooms. It is quite a cosy room, with the yellow wall furnishings and it’s relatively modest size. I must admit, seeing the cake’s the table did make me a little hungry for cake. In all fairness, I had only eaten toast all day and toast without jam at that.
The Yellow Drawing Room was the last of the ground floor rooms, and so up to the first floor we headed.
The Silk Bedroom
We were only able to see two of the main bedrooms, along with dressing rooms, a nursery a bathroom and a knitting room, the remaining bedrooms were closed to the public *sadface*. That is one of the things I find most annoying about visiting Houses, Castles and Churches; closed off areas, I’m a nosey/curious person by nature.
The first of the two main bedrooms was the Silk Room, this was entered by the first door of the landing. The bed would have originally been a four-poster bed, however it was modified to its current form to keep with the fashions of the time. The Silk Room was another of the rooms with a fake door, it was pointed out by another lady room steward; this one far less intimidating. It was quite strange not to notice the fake door, the staircase was on the other side of the wall with one of the Cheshire Gentlemen hanging where the door would have opened.
The Lemon Bedroom
The second of the two main bedrooms was the Lemon Bedroom, I quite like the yellow and green theme, but the flowery upholstery on the furniture is a bit too garish for my taste. The Lemon Room again overlooks the Italian Gardens and parkland, it must have been lovely waking up to such views. The Lemon Room was the only bedroom of the mansion not to have an adjoining dressing room.
After concluding our tour of the Mansion, after having taken many a photo of paintings, objects and rooms, enjoying a refreshing cup of tea and a cake (as one must when visiting this sort of place), we set off home. As soon as we set off, it rained, once again choosing to wait until we had finished our day Tatton Park, thankfully. Whilst driving back, I asked what was thought of Minerva (my mini):
“This is quite a big mini”
“I think the new mini’s are all the same size”
“Oh yes the new ones are”
“Did you think I had bought an old mini? A mini mini for a mini Dean?”
Well that is quite a long blog of my day in Tatton, I do hope you didn’t get too bored and stop reading halfway through (like a certain person who shall not be named, and decided not to read my writing, but only look at the photos! Such rude behaviour).
I’m not quite sure where my next excursion will take me, or when. At least there is Cardiff to look forward to the Aberystwyth next month. Perhaps I shall write some more Jane Austen fiction or just run away to Bath.