Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Gunby Hall I

When I started this post it was what I though would be the first cold day of many, but it was not to be, the season has be very mild - there has, so far as I know, been only one frost. I certainly long for cold, crisp days of sharp, thin winter sunshine.

Apologies for having posted anything for a while I've been busy doing other stuff, mainly redecorating.  It's turned cold here overnight.  The first really cold day of the season, an odd day to recall that summer day trip we made, our goal being the quietly beautiful Gunby Hall on the southern tip of the Lincolnshire Wolds.  Another essay in Lincolnshire brickwork.  Not that it was particularly summery weather.  Still it was wonderful to wander around the house and the simply stunning gardens.
The house, which I'm sure somebody must have likened to a doll's house, dates from 1700 and was built for Sir William Massingberd.  The wing to the north is a sensitive late Victorian addition.  The original house is a tall and compact design - Pevsner rightly calls the design 'austere and puritanical'.  (Don't let that put you off.) It is a development of that sensible style of Belton, though the scale is smaller and consequently more domestic.  This is not the house of a 18th century grandee or national politician. As at Belton the decoration is concentrated in certain key places in this case the front door.  A little touch of the Baroque.  A touch of Baroque too in the round arched gate to the side of the house.  The textures of old brick, pantile and paving are lovely.
The interior too is an absolute delight.  The scale is just right.  There is nothing outstanding in decor, architecture or art. There is, however, plenty of paneling painted in soft colours and off-whites, and old furniture.  Old rugs sprawl about the floors.  A comfortable place, with a sort of modesty to it I find utterly beguiling.  And, as regular readers will have realized, that is one of the unintended themes of this blog: the delight in the everyday and the obscure; and certainly Gunby is obscure, and it is perhaps its advantage that it stands far and remote in such a by-passed and overlooked county.
To the north of the house is a charming 'cour d'offices': stables and other ancillary buildings.  It is later than the house and is a lovely space, almost collegiate in feel.  In fact there is a wonderful sense of calm to the whole complex, that has led some to believe that it was the inspiration for Tennyson's 'haunt of ancient peace'.  It was a favourite of the architectural historian, diarist and National Trust expert James Lees Milne, who left a sum on his will for the restoration of the library.
My only complaint was the new 'open to roam' policy of the National Trust included the bedrooms. On my previous visits the house was still inhabited, and on my last visit there our party was shown round by the then tenant, and now to be allowed to wander around her bedroom didn't feel right somehow.

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