|Starts:||13:00 01 April 2017|
|Ends:||13:00 29 October 2017|
|What is it:||Exhibitions|
|Who is it for:||University staff, Families, Adults, Alumni, Current University students, General public, Post 16|
As a university of Manchester country house collection, The Tabley House Collection showcases a permanent exhibition of early British modern masters alongside interchanging displays of impressive treasures that tell the story of Tabley.
Tabley House was designed by John Carr of York for Sir Peter Byrne Leicester, Bt., and completed in 1767. Now home to The Tabley House Collection, the collection is based around a great Regency picture collection and important paintings commissioned and collected by the Leicester family, principally by the British art patron Sir John Fleming Leicester Bt (1762-1827). Sir John was the first great patron of British paintings; he became the first Lord de Tabley, ennobled by his friend, George IV in 1827. Amongst the modern masters that Leicester commissioned to paint was a young JMW Turner, who stayed at Tabley and painted the house and the mere, views of which are still unspoilt. Easel marks on the floorboards, scrap book clippings and diary entry remarks document the artist’s stay at Tabley House.
With approximately 12,000 items in the collection there are many family treasures; social history items, textiles, decorative arts pieces and important furniture from Gillow, Bullock and Chippendale, as well as two rare early keyboard instruments. The Tabley House Library makes up a quarter of the Collection; it is owned by the John Rylands Library, which has taken the principal items into its care at Deansgate, leaving a still remarkable collection at Tabley House to exemplify a typical country house collection.
The house, with its nine-bay central block facing south, flanked by pavilions and quadrant passages set well back and splendid Doric Portico reached by curved stairs, Tabley is the only 18th century Palladian country house in Cheshire.
Housed in the principal state rooms of this grade 1 Palladian mansion, the Tabley House Collection contains much to delight its visitors.
The following rooms are open to the public:-
The Old Entrance Hall, - the "Portico Room" - with its handsome white stone chimney piece from John Carr’s York workshop, provided the main entrance to the house, as it does today. The work of Yorkshire craftsmen - the plasterer Thomas Oliver and the wood carvers Daniel Shillito and Mathew Bertram - is well represented here and in the other rooms.
The Drawing Room was originally designed by Carr as the Dining Room and in the original plan was the mirror-image of the Drawing Room in the south-west of the central block. The simple Jonesian design for the ceiling, enriched by Thomas Oliver's naturalistic plasterwork, was intended to complement the room's original function. The white chimney piece supplied by Carr is the finest in the house.
The Common Parlour is the best example of Carr's interior design surviving at Tabley. Its original function was to provide a link between the 'public' rooms at the front and 'private' bedrooms and dressing rooms at the back of the house. It provides the counterbalance, both functionally and in terms of the bows in the east and west fronts, to the original Library, located where the central bay of the Gallery is today. Restrained plaster work in Rococo style decorates the ceiling.
The Dining Room was created between 1840-45 when the wall dividing the easternmost dressing room from the adjoining bedchamber was removed. The fireplace, by George Bullock, made from Anglesey marble, replaces the original bed- or dressing room fireplace.
The top-lit Oak Hall is named for the oak trees that grew on the site prior to 1760. The leisurely ascent of the cantilevered mahogany staircase, with its triple balusters, is typical of Carr. The grandeur of this central space is reinforced by the crisp carving of the mahogany by Shillito and Thomas Oliver's plasterwork.
The Gallery has been described as one of the great rooms of Cheshire. It was created in the early nineteenth century and incorporates the original Drawing Room, Library and a bedroom and dressing room from Carr's design. Its evolution is not yet fully researched, but it appears that its development to create this one large space started in the first decade of the nineteenth century and was modified further in the 1840’s, when its present appearance was created. When the house was restored in the late 1980s before it was opened to the public, the original wallpaper design was discovered and restored.