Sunday, 5 June 2011

Snowshill Manor - a look inside. (posting one: inside the cabinets and outhouses)

The photo on the left was posted yesterday and seems a good place to start explaining about Snowshill.

I've said it was remarkable, but haven't explained why.  Here's what the National Trust who own the property say.....

"Charles Wade was a treasure-seeker who loved buying and restoring beautifully made objects. His family motto was 'Let nothing perish', and he spent his inherited wealth doing just that, amassing a spectacular collection of everyday and extraordinary objects from across the globe. He restored the ancient Cotswold manor house specifically to display these unlikely treasures. Laid out with creative flair, just as Mr Wade intended, the Manor is literally packed to the rafters with thousands of unusual objects – from tiny toys to splendid suits of Samurai armour. The Manor is surrounded by an equally characterful hand-crafted terraced garden."

Although the collection is amazingly diverse, most of the objects including the Samurai armour were bought locally in Gloucestershire.

He filled the house to capacity and then had to move into the outhouses (above). These next photos show the bathroom and the living areas.

 "The manor of Snowshill was owned by Winchcombe Abbey from 821 until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. It then passed to the Crown, and was given as a gift to Katherine Parr, wife to King Henry VIII.
Since then, many alterations and additions have been made by the house's many owners and tenants. The main part of the current house dates from around 1500. It was altered and extended in the 17th century, and the south front displays classical details of c1720.

By 1919, the manor was a semi-derelict farm. It was bought and restored by a man named Charles Paget Wade. Ironically the neglect that the house had suffered from was exactly what attracted Wade. A house with no modern additions or alterations was the ideal place to display his historic and unique collection."

This was his bed.

Look at the swing hung from the rafters for the children to sit at.

Charles Paget Wade

JB Priestly described Wade as 'My eccentric, but charming friend of the fantastic manor house.'

"Charles Wade was an architect and craftsman from Yoxford in Suffolk, who inherited sugar estates in the West Indies from his father. This enabled him to devote his life to amassing his enormous and varied collection of craftsmanship, which he acquired mainly from antique shops and dealers in the UK.

Wade spent many hours in the Manor house arranging and restoring his collection, whilst living in the old priest's house in the courtyard."

I have, as you know, a fascination with boxes. Lots of drawers and cupboards to put things in but delightfully, behind a closed door.  Charles Wade was a man of similar tastes and the house is stacked with cabinets like these and they are all brimming with little treasures.  The insides of which I managed to photograph but the lighting was very low.

 This "treasure" box is made from metal and don't be fooled into thinking that what you see on the lid is the lock.  It isn't. It's decorative work designed to hide the lock which is behind it.

It has four bolts which fire across the lid into each of the sides, and the key hole you see on the front is false.

At some point, someone has tried to break in from the bottom, but didn't succeed. I think you'd need gelignite.
 The NT are puzzled by this box as each of the drawers is labelled with the name of the month. The top two rows are in latin and the bottom in English.

What do you imagine you could keep in these small drawers? I could only think of seeds collected or to be sown in a particular month, but the guide wasn't convinced. BTW, look at the elephant above. A carving done by someone who had never seen an elephant.
 And we get to the nitty gritty and the bits I love.  A small cabinet in a passagway, which is stuffed to the gunwhales with stuff.

The label on the cabinet below explains that the carvings were done by French prisoners of war during the time of Napoleon...probably in bone.

Carved ivory balls. Each one of those balls has another inside it, equally well carved. And inside that one is another one, and so on. I couldn't count how many there were but I know they can have as many as 15, each getting smaller and smaller.   The truly amazing thing is that they are carved from one piece of ivory and not carved separately and pieced together afterwards like a toy.

 This bed was inside the main house and I loved the boxes stuffed on top of it.  However, on the bed is another box dedicated to sewing.

I shall leave you today with a peek inside it. Back tomorrow with the Samurai and musical instuments.


  1. All I can say is "Wow"!!! I,too love boxes and these are wonderful.

    Do you know how old that splendid sewing box is..............I want one of these :-)