Monday, 16 May 2011

Hughenden Manor - The Victorian story

This is the second posting on Hughenden Manor. The first is here, and is about it's role in WW2.

Before I begin, I have to say that this is an interesting building, but has it's problems for the visitor. There is an easily missed, extension car park with adequate space at the top of the hill behind the property, so don't turn away thinking they're full like we did. (Ineffective signing)  The cafe was poor; expensive, with small portions, little choice, and huge queues (very slow and ponderous)......take sandwiches and a flask if it's a busy day as there is a picnic area.

Hughenden Manor was the home to Benjamin Disraeli and his wife Mary Anne, and they came to live at Hughenden in 1848.

Disraeli was a novelist, and after three attempts, became an MP in 1837. He was a "man about town" and apparently dressed astonishingly; possibly an attempt at being noteworthy rather than eccentric. He married Mary Anne, the rich widow of Wyndham Lewis quite openly for her money, as he had large debts.

He rose to be Prime Minister, and Queen Victoria was said to be very fond of him. He was a flirt, she was lonely after Albert died, so they got on well!   Above is the dining chair with it's legs famously cut off so that Queen Victoria, who was very short, would feel more comfortable. Her legs would have dangled otherwise. It does make you wonder if her chin was above table level though.

Anove, the front entrance to the house, and right, the trees surrounding the front of the house. The Disraeli's were fond of trees and collected and planted many. The orginals however were removed in WW2 so that the ground which was flat could be used as a parade ground for military and civilian personnel.

The National Trust plan to lift and replant these trees every 50 years, so they don't block too much light from the property.

The Ground Floor

Left, the entrance hall, with the library in the distance.

The living areas. Love the yellow curtains.

Another pelmet for the collection. This one as you can see is made of wood, and is delightfully gothic.

Above right, here, and two below are Disraeli's library, with his desk.

Information was sparse. We were given a handout to take around with us, and there was an introductory video, but no explanations of the importance of objects or their history. There was a room steward but she was busy flitting from room to room keeping an eye on security and wasn't a source of information. Pity.


Mary Anne's bedroom. Still a lovely pretty yellow.

Loved the dressing table, complete with ear cleaning scoops.

Pre-plumbing days; the washstand with bidet, and slops pot.

Signed pictures of Albert and Victoria. Below is Disraeli's study, that Victoria visited after his death. Victorian society did not encourage women to attend funerals as it was thought they were too weak to bear the strain. Victoria didn't go to Disraeli's but came to the house a couple of days later to pay tribute to him and visit his grave which is in the little church at the bottom of the hill.

No idea what this fan of cards was about. There was no explanation to be seen so we were left to guess. Do you have any ideas??

Back to the dining room.

The wooden ceiling and sideboard.

The gardens outside were laid by Mary Anne, but this is a representation of how they would have appeared, as during WW2, the whole lot was removed and nissan huts were put here. It was the despatch department for the map making that went on at Hughenden. (see previous posting)

A sad note to leave on, but an example of the parts of Hughenden that don't look especially cared for. An attempt at making a recycled garden bed...time for a change I think. It was quite a busy day for visitors and I don't believe there isn't enough money to spend on such things as the cafe and facilities.

Come on National Trust, not one of your finest. Jog Jog.

1 comment:

  1. I love your NT postings, I'm saving them all for when we have the time to visit such things.