As you drive down the avenue of trees approaching Wormington Grange in Gloucestershire it appears as an elegant and serene Cotswold stately home. Built of typical warm Cotwold stone and fronted by a smooth green lawn nothing gives a hint of what is going on in the stables and out-buildings behind the house.
The impressive stable block store
Wormington Grange is the home and work place of John Evetts The Landmark Trust’s Furnishings Manager and on Friday 9 August I had the honour and pleasure to have been included in a small group of Landmark Patrons and their guests at a private and ‘magical‘ tour behind the scenes. We were shown the store of furniture and furnishings and the workshops and told the history (accompanied by amusing anecdotes and asides) of the collection and of the house and grounds by Mr Evetts himself.
We started our tour behind the house at the impressive set of stable buildings. John explained the history and architectural features and then … the moment of revelation … he unlocked each of the large heavy doors to reveal the furniture delights held inside.
So much of it was familiar to us as devout Landmarkers! Here were ‘container’ pieces – chests of drawers, wardrobes and the like. There were shelves of towel rails and hook upon hook of picture frames and brass lanterns. Another former horse box was piled high to the rafters with kitchen chairs – and not just any old kitchen chairs – each one had been chosen for its shape and stretchers. John is on the lookout everywhere for the right furniture and suitable pictures. Years ago he bought ‘brown’ furniture at a higher price than today. Currently it is out of fashion. When Landmark acquire a ‘new’ property John is asked to provide suitable furniture, soft furnishings, pictures and often adapts items for new purposes or builds completely from scratch pieces to fit – like here in the kitchen at the Clavell Tower:
As he travels up and down the country from Landmark to Landmark John is always on the look out for suitable pieces to add to the collection. He has special sources abroad – he finds suitably large bed heads in Italy and fabrics in France at the Marché St Pierre in Paris.
Inside the Stable Store
How many towel rails?
A Choice of Chairs
Brass Lanterns Abound
Picture Frames Galore
Prints for the Hanging
More Picture Frames – the Hogarth frames (left) for prints (currently being collected) for Belmont.
In the past soft furnishings were made up here, too. These days the orders are shipped off to Bideford in Devon where a specialist company can perform the ‘magic’ at a more reasonable price than can be done in house. The same for the actual sofas and easy chairs (I use the term guardedly!). These are now made to order by an upholstery company in Nottingham.
Rolls of Furnishing Fabrics
Easy Chair and Sofa Covers in Waiting
Sofa Ready to go
After the tour we were invited into the house – equally as elegant and serene as it appears on the outside – for a buffet lunch. Here we could enjoy the Dining Room, Sitting Room and Hall and have a chance to meet other members of the group and talk Landmarks.
The Dining Room
The Sitting Room
John Evetts’ grandfather was Lord Ismay former Chief of Staff to the Ministry of Defence 1940-46 and as chief military assistant to Winston Churchill during the Second World War he served on the Chiefs of Staff Committee. So it was interesting to see in the ‘Throne Room’ the chairs sat upon by Lord and Lady Ismay at the Coronation of our Queen in 1953.
And even That Woman had connections here.
I now view Landmarks and their furnishings with added insight – from the lamps and light bulbs through the towel rails and cushions to the double beds and sofas! Ann and I continued our Landmarking theme by staying at Saint Mary’s Lane in Tewkesbury that night where we were able to put our newly found knowledge to the test. Thank you, Ann, for a wonderful day out!