Visit – Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire


During July and August my fiance and I have made 2 visits to Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire after initially concentrating on Kedleston Hall for the country house visit in Part 4 of this course – the houses were completed between 80 and 100 years apart and have very different styles as you would expect and it proved very interesting to be able to compare them.

Sudbury Hall is a very different style of country house, as said,  compared to Kedleston and is described in the guidebook as being a mix of Jacobean features on the exterior in particular combined with the classical styling so popular at the time due to Sir Christopher Wren’s City churches. The Hall is also listed as being of Restoration style and this is apparent by the acanthus foliage and natural motifs seen in much of the carving but it also strikes strongly as having the Baroque style so fashionable at the time – the two styles crossed over in the same period albeit with the latter having a longer timescale.

Sudbury apparently is the work mainly of one George Vernon (1535/6 – 1702) who upon inheriting the estate decided to rebuild the old manor house in much the same way as the Curzon family rebuilt their family home later in 1765.    Sudbury Hall was finished between 1660 and 1680 and apparently some of the interior was not finished until 30 years after the house was actually started with local craftsman being replaced by London men who ere more fashionable.  Final touches to the house were added in the 1690’s in the form of the murals and painted ceilings.

At this point I make note of the fact that much of my information for this post comes from the guide book for the hall. I also make note of the fact that it is obvious that Sudbury as built very much as a family home first and foremost it seems with the necessary grand rooms that you would expect for entertaining guests.  The atmosphere is one of homeliness rather than a facade of grandeur to the outside world.

Since the house was completed there have apparently been very few changes except for the addition of a service wing to the east side in 1873-83 which replaced an earlier Victorian wing – the later designed by George Devey and the early by Anthony Salvin.    The National Trust took over the house after it was given to the Treasury in 1967 in part payment of death duties after the death of the 9th Lord Vernon and the NT commissioned one John Fowler to redecorate several of the principle rooms – the restoration of the house is ongoing and in fact between two visits in July and August more of the basement area has been opened up to the public.

What is noted in the guidebook is how the house grew upwards in its development as bricks or stone or lead or glass became available and this is noted in Gorge Vernon’s account book.  Some of the designs of the exterior are puzzling in that their exact origins are unknown such as the pattern of the brickwork that is possible a reference to the Vernon arms – that pattern of the brickwork is certainly striking to see and very beautiful too.  There is also a question mark about the window above the porch but the small pairs of windows with ovals either side may be related to the carver William Wilson as he had apparently done similar windows in St Mary’s, Warwick.  The porch for me seems to have the classical features that were up to date for the period but further research has confirmed my feeling that this building has English Baroque overtones as the style was just filtering through to England and in fact William Talman designed Chatsworth House in Derbyshire  in 1687 just as the house was nearing completion  – however the guidebook states that Ionic capitals are likely to be based on Van Campen’s Stadhuys at Amsterdam (built in the 1640s) which was known to architects as well as craftsmen due to engravings and also the upper cartouche was probably based on prints by Jean Barbet of the 1630s.

The central cupola was built to reflect the suns rays and provide a beacon for travellers – as a modern note this part of the building was used for the TV programme The Book Tower in the late 1970’s to 1980’s.

IMG_0899The South Front of the house has a slightly differing colour of brick work and a differing appearance to the porch – the former possibly caused by the employment of local brick-makers.  The porch is more calm in character but will small indications of classical style and influences of the carver William Wilson as well as a Baroque shield of arms which supports my feeling of Baroque overtones in the building.   The steps and glazing of the porch are thought to be added in around 1834.

So what of the house? I will do this in the same way that I did the blog on Kedleston as you walk around the building.

As you enter the house you do so through the entrance passage which effectively divides the grand staterooms on one side and the family rooms and servants quarters on the other and this entrance has a feeling of a Roman villa in its architecture.

IMG_6958The first main room you enter is the Great Hall and this is grand in appearance but on a smaller more intimate scale than the Marble Hall at Kedleston – there is still the feeling of entering a family home.  It is thought the entrance hall and this hall may have possibly been one room originally and this is indicated by early ground plans of the house along with some awkward joining in the plasterwork friezes in the corners of the dividing wall according to the guidebook but this is not something I was aware of as I entered – I was more struck by the differing atmosphere and the artwork.

IMG_0636The fireplace is a later addition thought to be from the 1900’s and my fiance had spotted the earlier version in a portrait of George William Henry, 7th Lord Vernon (1854-98) by Julian Story.

IMG_0625The painting above the fireplace is by Louis Laguerre (1663-1721) who was responsible for several of the works throughout the house – this mural in a plaster frame is an Allegory of Industry and Idleness.  Many of the paintings or murals in the house are seemingly Greek scenes but painted from a Roman viewpoint with the appropriate Roman names – my fiance has long been interested in Greek and Roman myths and his viewpoint was both valued and very different to my own which are based on my studies of this course so put a differing perspective on the works.  Both of us felt that the paintings were naive in style compared to the works I have been studying and this feeling makes sense on my discovery that Laguerre was a decorative painter  in the Baroque style who initially worked under Charles le Brun before moving to England – his work can be seen in many of the great country houses of the time including Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.  Laguerre did not seem to have need of the refinement of his colleagues who painted landscape and portrait works and I question that his works did not carry the same monetary value as the portraits or landscapes that were commissioned or collected.

IMG_6962Two other notable works of art in this room are the ones of King George III and also of Queen Charlotte  which were painted by the studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds – these are copies of the originals that were painted for the Royal Academy in 1779.

IMG_6967I have mentioned these portraits in my Exercise on drawing a classical portrait in Part 4 of this course and both paintings are very typical of the style of Reynolds although the classical styling is subtle.  A second look at both the works enabled me to see the classical architecture behind the sitters and the drapes and make further note of the red colour of the fabric which was used to highlight the flesh tones.

As you move through this room you are greeted by the Great Staircase and this is classed as the finest staircase in situ in an English country house – it was originally intended to provide a link with the Great Hall and the Great Stairhead Chamber which is now the Queen’s Chamber.  It is thought to be have been possibly designed by George Vernon but my first thoughts were that it reminded me of a smaller version of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s staircase in the Residenz at Wurzburg in Germany but that is later in date than Sudbury!

Of note on the chimneypiece there were two Japanese Imari plates which sadly I did not get a clear photograph of but are the first indications of an interest in the East seen throughout the house and one of personal interest to myself.

IMG_0657The craftsman employed for this grand staircase  was apparently one of the most talented of the time it seems and he along with others came to prominence during the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666 – his name was Edward Pierce and was often employed by Sir Christopher Wren.

What is striking me is how wealthy the family seemed to be at the time but appearances are deceptive as George Vernon did not have the funds or the status that required the house he so desired but he was MP for Derby on more than one occasion and it is thought that he may have felt the house suited his political ambitions.  However George Vernon married 3 times and it is the marriages of women into the family that enhance either social standing, wealth or just purely provided the necessary connections – the women of Sudbury are portrayed throughout the house in various portraits.

Going back to the staircase Edward Pierce was the son of a painter whose engravings are thought to possibly have provided some of the inspiration for the Baroque style balustrade with its elaborate design with a beautiful sense of movement that can only be fully appreciated when you see it in person – the design leads you upwards and is incredibly detailed.  The wood used is lime wood and for me the white paint enhances it and this was likely the original colour.  The plasterwork of the ceiling, coving and under the stairs is by a James Pettifer and the guidebook states that it is all very reminiscent of Sir Christopher Wren’s City churches and there is extensive use of elaborate plasterwork ceilings throughout the main rooms of the house.

IMG_6989The ceiling paintings were done by Louis Laguerre and the guidebook does state that George Vernon possibly saw his work at Chatsworth – something I noted at Kedleston Hall was the belief that the Curzon’s were trying to compete with the Cavendish’s in status and style of house and although Sudbury is considerably smaller there does seem to be a little of this rivalry here too.

IMG_0649As in the Grand Hall the paintings are mainly of classical Roman mythical scenes which are in keeping with the Classical style architectural doorcase that leads to the Saloon.  The door is thought to be by Thomas Young who was another craftsman from Chatsworth.

IMG_6994All the portraits in this hall way are of family members including this one of Admiral Edward Vernon (1684-1757) by Charles Phillips (1708-47).  Like the ceiling paintings the portraits from the early years of the house are very much in the Baroque style – one thing that is fascinating is seeing the differing eras of the portraits throughout the house and the changes in style that took place.

IMG_7004Moving into the Saloon for me this is the most extravagant in style and was mainly used for entertaining.  In the guidebook the room is described as having ‘superb decoration’ but if I am to be brutally honest I find this room reminds me of an over-the-top wedding cake – I appreciate this is not artistic terminology but it is honest terminology! I am aware of course of the Baroque decoration and this is why it is classed as ‘superb’ and I have no doubt that in the time it was built and when it was used for entertaining this room must have been perfect for entertaining and show but it is my least favourite of all the rooms of this house.

Apparently 4 different stages of construction  can be seen and I will go back for a further look but the first things to note is the carved woodwork around the walls by Edward Pierce and the ceiling painting by Laguerre of the Four Seasons – the carvings were done in 1675 and 1678 the paintings in the 1690’s.

IMG_7002Alterations were done in the mid-18th century and in the 19th Century the 5th Lord Vernon added the jasper chimneypiece and also the mirror – I fully admit this chimneypiece is stunning when you see it in person the Louis XIV bracket clock placed centrally and dating from around 1710 (and signed by Gautier Paris) can be seen.

Like the staircase the plasterwork is by Bradbury and Pettifer and as mentioned the carving by Edward Pierce.  The guidebook states that the richest carving is reserved fro the portraits of George Vernon and his third wife (whose family were successful London merchants) and also above the doorways and the note of the Dutch influence can be clearly seen – I made note of this at the time but again my photographs have not come out sufficiently clearly.

In my first clear photograph of the house you can see the chandeliers which are c. 1740 and apparently rare giltwood – they were acquired by the 1st Lord Vernon and still retain the pulleys, cords and weight mechanism so that they could be lowered for lighting and perhaps my personal feelings about this room would be very different it there was the chance to see this room lit by candlelight in the evening.  There are also gilded lead wall brackets from around a decade earlier. Both sets of lights were made at a time where the Rococo style was starting to come into fashion, (depending on which set of dates you consider the period started as there seems to be some variation depending on sources), but considering it is also sometimes classed as late-Baroque my feeling that these lights are reminiscent of the style is fitting.

IMG_0670Of the art work the portraits are mainly of important family members and in fact the carved ‘tabernacles’ which surround the works were specifically lengthened in the mid-18th Century to effectively frame them – this idea certainly gives added emphasis and drama to the portraits.   The portrait I have photographed is of Elizabeth Vernon, Lady Harcourt (1678-1748) by Michael Dahl (1656/9 – 1743)  and like many of the portraits in this room I personally feel it has almost romantic overtones despite the Baroque.  There is a realism to all the figures but also perhaps a touch of idealism too in the fact that I am not sure just how realistic the portraits are in terms of capturing the individual persons characteristics – what I mean is the sitters almost seem to perfect and as if imperfections had been removed.  The poses in the portraits are all very similar and have classical backgrounds with either urns or the statues but at the same time retain the soft use of deep rich colours and the use of light and shade so characteristic of Baroque  and both in turn centralise the focus of the spectator on the subject of the portrait and also give the skin tones a delicate realism.

IMG_7005Moving through into the Drawing Room and also the Library – these two rooms were originally one until 1853 and the both redecorated in the 1920’s but restored to the original scheme in 1969.

My first point of note for me personally was the piano but frustratingly there is no information available on the age so I have made note to enquire further and will add to this blog after my next visit.

IMG_7006The ceiling in this room  was also done by Bradford and Pettifer and incorporates winged cherubs not usually seen in a domestic or secular property – the ceiling was done in 1680.  The painting in the centre was not done by Laguerre and is also not directly on the plaster but on canvas so is thought to be a later addition but in keeping with the other ceilings it has a mythical scene from the Aeneid by Virgil – despite the elaboration this is probably my favourite ceiling in the house.

IMG_7009Over the door towards the Saloon is a painting by John Griffier the Elder (1645-1718) of Classical Ruins with Diana and Nymphs and the opposite door has another painting by the same artist titled Exotic Seaport with much of the rest of the room taken up with various portraits of family members.

IMG_7018To note there is also further evidence of Eastern influence in the octagonal plates to the right of the fireplace which are 18th Century Chinese ‘famille rose’ and also a small cabinet of which there is no information in the guidebook – a further question to ask on our next visit.

The Library is a simple room and is thought to have been the study of George Vernon with the bookcases either from near the end of his life or early the next century.  The ceiling is similar to that of the Long Gallery on the upper floor by Bradbury and Pettifer and the feeling is it may have been an afterthought but is listed as being in the Restoration style – listed on the V&A website is note of the acanthus foliage so typical of the style.

IMG_7020Again the main works of art are of family portraits but the room is dominated by the desk, the bookcases and two 18th Century plaster busts of ‘men of letters and classical thinkers’ (p. 19 Guidebook) Alexander Pope and John Locke.

IMG_7045 Another classical influence can be seen in the Greek and Etruscan vases which were actually discovered by the 5th Lord Vernon during excavations at Cumae in Greece.

IMG_7043From this room you go into a the stone passage which linked the servants quarters with the family rooms and it is here there is the most striking Chinese screen which again there is no information on. There is a longcase clock in the Drawing Room by John Bushman (not photographed) which is listed as having a black ‘japanned’ case and the guidebook states that ‘like the other Chinoiserie decoration is early eighteenth-century’ (p. 18 Guidebook) so I can only assume that this would be  the case for this screen and the small cabinet in the same room.

IMG_7022There is also a long-case clock in the hallway is notable for the delicacy of the painted scenes and also the mechanism as well as the carving at the above the clock face.

IMG_7046This clock is another to be added to my list of questions and a further study to be made – it is obviously very different to the Chinoiserie ones of the previous rooms but is also in keeping with the paintings within this hallway – I question if this is the original space for both or whether they had been moved from a different part of the house at some point.

The paintings in the hallway I did not take enough note of because the guidebook states them of being of scenes of Sudbury from the mid to late 18th Century and so must be on my list for another look!

From speaking to a volunteer guide we have learnt that some of the next rooms were used by the family much later and I will be checking when these were first used as they are of much different style and in the wing of the house used by the servants.

IMG_7056Lord Vernon’s study is hung with maps dated from 1794 of the estate and also a portrait  of Violet Clay, Lady Vernon (1895-1978) by Frank Cadogan Cowper (1877-1958).

IMG_7064This is a room you really do feel you could spend considerable time in and of personal family note to myself was the 1930’s box camera on the side table which I believe is by Kodak – I say of personal note as I remember seeing an identical one which I believe my great-grandfather possessed and his interest has filtered down through the family to the extent my brother is now a professional photographer!

IMG_7072Next to this room is Lady Vernon’s Sitting Room and decorated very much in the 1930’s style – if my memory is correct this is one room that was originally a housekeepers room until Lady Vernon acquired it for her personal use rather than use some of the other grander rooms.

IMG_7068Over the piano (believed to be 1930’s) there is a painting of Louise Barbara Mansel, Lady Vernon (1732-86) by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) – this piece is very of the Romantic style and is typical of his delicacy of touch and use of colour and I can only wish I could get a much closer study!!

IMG_7086Just across the corridor from both Lord Vernon’s study and also Lady Vernon’s sitting room is the small Dining room which is clearly the family dining room – this was originally known as the Oak Parlour and encompassed the area called the Stone Passage originally.   It is very interesting as I go through my photographs and the guidebook at leisure as I write this as the rooms suddenly make much more sense but also reflect on the fact that the original use of the Stone Passage could have been mentioned earlier in the guide with perhaps a note of where the paintings and the like may have originally been.

As can be seen the room has been furnished with the portraits and furniture in much the same way it would have been when it was created in the late 18th Century – on a personal level I am not keen on this room ironically because it seems bland or plain in comparison with the other rooms but it also shows a very different style of the later century.  It is very hard to see the style of the portraits but the information states that they seem to date from around the mid to late 18th Century through to the 19th and even early 20th Century.  The dinner service on the table is another item I would love a closer look at to study as it dates from around 1770-84 and is a Chelsea-Derby dessert service.

As you go around the house at this point you descend the stairs into the kitchen and billiard room and between our two visits further areas of the basement have started to open up to visitors – this  area of the house is fascinating from a personal point of view and is starting to show the ‘below stairs’ life of the servants and it will be interesting to see how this is developed as further restoration is done.

IMG_7104From the basement you go up the Oak Staircase which was apparently reconstructed by a George Devey between 1873 and 1883 to replace the original secondary stairs which were presumably used by the servants originally or family members and are able to see two bedrooms including the Velvet Bedroom which included a dressing room too.


There is what is listed as a stumpwork box dating from 1671 which seems to have been kept previously in the Queen’s Room and is now partially covered to protect it from the light.  This is yet another piece of work I would really love to get a closer look at as I fascinated by stumpwork both from a historical point of view and an interest in learning the technique itself and this piece is too far across the room to be able to clearly see and looks as though it is also kept in a case for conservation purposes).

IMG_7138On this floor is the Great Staircase Landing which is literally the top of the Great Staircase and I purposefully decided to photograph the view looking down as well as up to try to give an indication of just how elaborate this area is.  It seems the yellow paint on the walls was chosen by the decorator chosen to help with the restoration in 1969 by the National Trust to offset the colouring of Laguerre’s paintings from the Baroque period as well as the plasterwork frames and his choice although not historical certainly achieves what he intended but I would still be intrigued to find out what the original colour was.

IMG_7131 One of the doorcases leads to the Queen’s Room and the other to the Talbot Room with both being carved by Edward Pierce in around 1676-77.  There is an obvious classical influence with the carving of these doorcases and they certainly give the intended grand entrance to the two rooms.

IMG_7133From the landing you are able to get a clearer view of Laguerre’s painting of the Rape of Oreithyia from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and there is no doubt this ceiling provides quite a spectacular view to the spectator as you look upwards.  Under the slope of the stairs is another mythical painting too, the figure of Juno,  with a smaller image in the soffit of Leda and the Swan and all are exquisite in technique, detail and for me notable for the colours used which are so typical of the period.

IMG_7146The Talbot Room is one currently undergoing some restoration and was originally used as a bedroom – the stairs in the corner were used for the lady’s maid whose bedroom was just above in the attic.   In the 1880’s the room was changed into the galleried library which took any books that overflowed from the Long Gallery which is the adjoining room.

The other room coming of the landing at the top of the Great Staircase is the Queen’s Room and originally known as the Great Stairhead Chamber – it is called the Queen’s Room now due to the consort of William IV, Queen Adelaide, who it seems leased the Hall for 3 years in 1840 during her widowhood.

IMG_7121This room was apparently one of the first rooms finished by George Vernon and before he came into contact with the London craftsmen according to the guidebook.  This room immediately reminded both my fiance and myself of the State Rooms at Kedleston Hall and in particular the silk wall hangings which the guidebook states have been copied from the original 18th Century fabric that was in the room – the State Rooms at Kedleston are of a dusky slate blue very much in keeping with the Rococo styling and this room is of Baroque or Restoration style but the feel is strikingly similar.

This was the first room where you learn there is an illusion taking place – the marble looking chimneypiece and overmantel are in fact carved and painted alabaster, (the carving by William Wilson in 1670) – this illusion is also seen in the Great Hall.  I am aware that the painting of the marble effect is done by a feather and takes a high level  of skill such a realistic look.

Most of the furniture within the room is mid-18th Century and although not photographed there are 2 large Dutch Neoclassical wardrobes which I spent some time admiring – by this time on both visits my camera batter was running a little low so I knew I needed to preserve it! In this room there are some pieces of late 17th Century English Delftware and also Oriental vases (one of which can be seen on the chimneypiece).

In this room the paintings seem much more of a mix and include portraits including those done in the Studio of Sir Anthony van Dyck and there are also two still lifes of flowers and fruit which date from the 17th-Century and are Italian.

IMG_7151Finally in the house there is the Long Gallery and it is very aptly named as it is vast in comparison to any of the other rooms and runs along the South side of the house – it seems a long gallery is unusual in a Charles II house  but as the guidebook states it is magnificent.  In length it is 138 feet and was completed around 1676.

It is thought that George Vernon may have conceived this gallery as a way of stressing the antiquity of his ancestors as they were of Norman origin and like the Curzon’s of Kedleston had a long history in Derbyshire.  There are numerous family portraits along the walls of this room and busts of Roman emperors seen in the frieze above with something I did not notice at the time – shields in the ceiling that according to the guidebook were possibly intended to be painting with the marriage alliances of his ancestors.

Again the ceiling plasterwork is by Bradbury and Pettifer and it is possibly here you can most appreciate the detail and the exquisite nature – in this gallery it does not seem too elaborate or over the top but entirely fitting in all its exquisite detailing.

Unlike in the Saloon the paneling is very simple and for me personally this perfectly offsets the ceiling and the portraits – there is no need for further detail.

IMG_7153I was lucky enough to be shown some photographs of the room as it was used by the family originally and the one I was able to get a clear image of dates from the 19th Century I believe and clearly shows the furniture in the room and how it would have looked at the time.

Most of the paintings are thought to be the originals in the room and are of the 17th Century and all seem to be of family members.  I did not read the guidebook at the time but now must pay a further visit to look at the works by John Michael Wright who is listed as being the most important ‘native-born painter in Restoration England’ (p. 24 guidebook) and frustratingly I did not take note of his works.

IMG_0814The paintings that did intrigue me at the time were those done in the style of Sir Anthony van Dyck including this one of Sir Robert Shirley, 4th Baron (1629-56) who was the father of Dorothy who was in turn the second wife of George Vernon.  Sir Robert Shirley was sent by Oliver Cromwell to the Tower of London where he died but before doing so in 1653 he built Staunton Harold Church which is a few miles from Sudbury and the subject of a planned visit now.

IMG_0805In addition to the portraits there are also two 17th-18th Century Dutch landscapes – this is my personal favourite of the Shepherd and Shepherdess, in a Landscape.

For me this piece was instantly recognisable from my studies and I would like to take the time to go back and have another look and perhaps do some sketches of details that I particularly like and also have a longer look at the colours and brushstrokes used.

IMG_0797At one end of the room is a grand library table with exquisite marquetry (another personal interest as my own father used to enjoy carpentry and I have a small table in which he tried a very simple version) and also what is described as a ‘burgomaster’s chair’ in rosewood from the 17th Century – the latter is again exquisite in its carving and styling and my curiosity with it is simply because I have never seen one before.

IMG_0834At the opposite end of the room is without doubt the favourite piece of furniture for both my fiance and myself in the whole house – a beautiful 17th Century Flemish ebony cabinet.

IMG_0836The detail on this cabinet is exquisite and we have been told the stand is a later edition.  On our first visit to the Hall one of the volunteers spent some time with us talking about this piece as we were both so intrigued by it.  The biblical scenes were painted on copper by Frans Francken the Younger (1581-1642) and this piece is very typical of the work he is known for – small-scale religious scenes and also finely crafted cabinet pictures.  This is one of those pieces of art or furniture that anyone interested in either antique furniture or history of art could sit and study for some time such is the exquisite nature of the work.

The lighting that can be seen in my own photograph is of early  Georgian origin and was made in the 1920’s by Lenygon & Morant who specialised in decoration for historic houses so presumably these were commissioned for this gallery.

Overall the house has been one of revelation and of great interest – the scale of the ceilings and the exquisite carvings by Bradbury and Pettifer and also being able to almost look back in time at the family in the collection of portraits.  From an art history point of view this house for me I cannot decide if it comes under the Restoration styling which it is listed as due to it being a Charles II house (and the restoration of the monarchy hence the style name) or if it could mostly be classed as being of Baroque style.  It is a house that has, as you would expect, been altered over time with rooms being divided as the family’s needs changed and possibly the economy changed either directly with the family or in general – certainly around the time of Lady Vernon’s Sitting Room which was decorated in the 1930’s there was great social change and the family would not have had the vast number of servants that they may have required a century earlier.

If I compare this house to Kedleston Hall my first thoughts are that it is very much a home rather than a stage which Kedleston without question feels like without seeing the private rooms of the family.  Sudbury is a house built to live in in its entirety rather than just parts of and as such occupants have been able to alter it as they inherited it over the centuries and although some changes are subtle some are more obvious such as the removing of walls when you understand the history.  Stylistically the two cannot compare – one very much of the classical antiquity and also Rococo styling and the other of the Restoration and Baroque with Rococo creeping in and being seen with some light fittings or even Georgian in the early 20th Century.  The outer appearances of the houses obviously are two differing styles but it must be said that one family achieved the ambitions of status that the other strived for and both seemed to be striving for the social status of the Cavendish’s at Chatsworth with the Vernon’s using some of their craftsmen as well as those that emerged after the Great Fire of London.  On a personal level I do prefer Sudbury Hall for the homely feel the house has but also I prefer it from a studying point of view as the art is much more consistent and seemed to be have been commissioned to record the occupants of the house and inadvertently recording some of the original fittings such as the chimneypiece in the Great Hall.

We are planning before I submit Assignment 5 to go out to Hardwick Hall which is Elizabethan and this will add a further comparison to these two country houses within my locality and a very differing much earlier style.

IMG_7242I must briefly mention the garden which has changed drastically since the house was built.  Originally George Vernon had laid out a walled garden which was typical of the Restoration period but his grandson changed to a more natural state in the style of Capability Brown – the Serpentine lake was formed out of fishponds and further descendants put their own stamp on the gardens as they inherited the property.

This is a garden that you half-wish could be restored to the original design of George Vernon but that you can also appreciate in its current naturalised form and when viewed from the house and in particularly the upper windows is very beautiful in its own right.  After the National Trust took over the house the two star shaped borders were added and the terraces and paths created with the topiary but for me personally I feel it should have been left much more as it was in the time of the 9th Lord Vernon at least but this is a very personal feeling – the changes that he made were done in 1919 and 1924-5 and were done after his predecessor had introduced an Italianate style with parterres on the terraces and island and even that would be wonderful to see if you could step back in time and take a look.

IMG_0846To finish this somewhat extensive blog I have discovered a lovely personal story about Sudbury Hall.  It seems during World War II it was used for both evacuee children from Derby and also convalescent children and one was called Miss Beryl Hague – we had the pleasure of meeting Miss Hague and her husband in the adjoining church of All Saints. The Church incidently dates from 14th and 15th Centuries although a church has been on the site since before the Domesday book – it was enlarged and restored in the 19th Century but the Norman doorway and a one of the small windows in the chapel remain – I want to do separate research on this church.

I have Miss Hague’s permission to tell this short story and promised I would only use her maiden name – she was quite thrilled that I wanted to mention  her!  Miss Hague lived at Sudbury Hall in the East wing of the house and her bedroom was above what is now the Museum of Childhood – she lived there between 1942 and 1945 as she was ill with tuberculosis and is that illness that sparked my interest.  My late Mum had TB during the 1950’s and this is what sparked the conversation between Miss Hague and myself.  Miss Hague was able to tell me that during her time at the Hall they were taken on walks across the fields to Tutbury Castle which is a distance of nearly 5 miles – she was aged between 7 and 10 during her time there so that was a 10 mile walk!

IMG_0858During WWII streets near her family home in Derby were bombed due to the fact the Rolls Royce factory was in the city and shrapnel landed just an inch or so from her brother when a bomb fell on a neighbouring street.   The evacuee children at Sudbury came from as far afield as Manchester as well as Derby itself.  It seems the children were very well looked and it seems apt that their bedrooms are now in the Museum of Childhood.  I actually met Miss Hague as she was looking at a window in the church which had been commissioned by some of those Manchester evacuee children and was designed and handmade by Michael Stokes and presented to the community in the first year of the Millennium – suffice to say Miss Hague was visibly moved to see this window and also delighted because it represents the convalescing children too.

The window within the church is surrounded by many other beautiful stained glass windows dating from the restoration in the 19th Century but that window also proved a small look into the more modern history of Sudbury before sadly death duties meant the family could not longer keep it.  Miss Hague had fond memories of the family and I only wish we could have spoken to her for much longer.



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