Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Chinese Textiles at Calke

[Detail of the Calke State Bed. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel.]

For a long time now I've been contrasting grand centuries-old canopied beds with some of the more lavish beds that occasionally pop up in the pages of Elle Decor. After my recent post about Marla Mallett's Chinese textiles, a very kind person from the National Trust shared these colorful, wonderfully detailed images of the silk-laden 18th-century Calke State Bed. (Click them to enlarge.)

[The Calke State Bed when it was being shown as part of the Treasure Houses of Britain exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1985. ©NTPL/Mark Fiennes.]

The National Trust describes Calke Abbey as a very old British country estate in Derbyshire (early masonry found on the property dates back to the Elizabethan age) that has been preserved in a state of 20th-century decline..."a place poised somewhere between gentle neglect and downright dereliction..." Visitors to the house become acquainted with the eccentric Harpur family who, I was told, seem never to have thrown anything away.

[©NTPL/Rupert Truman.]

The bed with the amazing embroidered Chinese silk hangings was probably made for King George I around 1715. It appears to have come to Calke in about 1734, as a gift from Princess Anne (daughter of George II) to her former maid of honor Lady Caroline Manners when she married Sir Henry Harpur, 5th Baronet, and went to live at Calke. Apparently the bed was mostly kept boxed up and was only properly revealed after the National Trust took over the house in 1985. In addition to the bed, Calke is home to a collection of countless 19th-and 20th-century household objects and curiosities.

Update 2.18.10
Click here to read Janet Blyberg's insights on Calke, A Case for Benign Neglect.


Dumbwit Tellher said...

Absolutely fascinating. What fun to read about Calke Abbey & hold out hopes of visiting one day. These old manors are quite spectacular and this one has such a marvelous history. Thanks for the introduction. X deb

Style Court said...

DT -- Calke does have a delightfully eccentric quality! I'm so glad the bed was preserved.

Laura Casey Interiors said...

What gorgeous and fabulous fabric. This is all so interesting. I look forward to reading more, thank you for sharing it all.

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Calke Abbey is fascinating to visit - if the tv show Hoarders was around in the 19th century, they would have surely been on it. One generation would live in a wing, filling rooms to the brim, and the next would simply lock the door and move into another wing. As you mention, the bed hangings you've profiled were unearthed by the National Trust underneath piles of clutter and barely if ever used which is why they are in such immaculate condition.

Many visitors find the house eerie - I adore it.... ask Janet about what she thinks...

Gifts that said...

What a beautiful setting, and story. Great to hear about this national treasure, Calke! I am so happy to find you! Nancy Taylor,

Janet said...

No other house generated more discussion amongst our Attingham classmates like Calke Abbey. It is an extraordinary relic. But, I will tell you exactly what I think later today...!

Zelengrad said...

I just wanted to say nice blog! I’ve enjoyed reading here.

Emile de Bruijn said...

After your and Janet's posts, someone else entirely has now also posted about Calke, so I have done a post of my own (with a few more images for good measure) linking us all together.