Its funny that in my last post Newly-Weds, Lamp shades & Chandeliers I had started to think about the realness and fakeness of the houses I have been visiting, there has to be an element of staging to attract visitors and help us too see the bits that are interesting or important to the house, but it has struck me that I have been seduced by much of the staging. The same can't be said of Chastleton House. Preserved as the last owners left it, Chastleton has minimal staging and so has the charming atmosphere of an almost neglected country house.
There are two prize possessions in this house, one is the bible which Charles I used just before his execution and can be seen under glass in the library. The other is a display of Jacobian glass wear which live safely under more glass. The glass wear in the picture above, possibly replicas (it wasn't very clear), are in the dinning room.
The window dressings are wonderful here and they interacted with the incoming light in a way that made this house feel grand and homely all at once and also very, very old. If I believed in spirits or ghosts (which I don't) I would have expected to see ghosts here, I'm sure I would have exited the house and declared 'Oh, yes I could feel them'. Actually, as one of the volunteers was telling us about a past owner who had many, many cats I realised that I had smelt a really strong waft of cats pee while I was in the great hall. (It was probably me, my cat smells pretty bad)
This is the last owner of the house who welcomed visitors until relatively recently. The great hall was a show case for portraits of all of the past owners. The paintings themselves become smaller and less grand as the fortunes of the family change, but no less interesting and definitely more intimate.
The dressing rooms were a real treat, one of them felt very private and very much as if the last occupant had just left the room, if I ignore the obvious passing of time in the drooping wall fabric and deteriorating timbre. In any case I am back on track and getting to see interesting, once private, spaces.
You can see more pictures from my afternoon at Chestleton House on my Flickr here.