Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex.
Audley End, under the management of English Heritage, is a largely early 17th Century country mansion. Still the family home of The Neville family, it is renowned for being one of the finest surviving Jacobean properties in Britain. The house was built between 1605 and 1614 by the First Earl of Suffolk, Thomas Howard.
The house has changed stature since it’s conception. The palatial building was under the ownership of Charles II for over 30 years. Much of the outer and inner courts were demolished to make the estate more manageable. The late 18th century saw interior renovation works by Robert Adam and landscaping by ‘Capability’ Brown.
The Great Drawing Room
Situated on the ground floor of the property, The Great Drawing Room, was designed by Robert Adam. This is the room where guests would be received, before following onto subsequent rooms.
The design for the room was challenging for Adam as the space lacks height. His approach was to make the furniture in the room smaller and to lower the chair rail to give an impression of elevation. The whole interior scheme of the room was designed by Adam himself from the furniture to the ceiling and even the pattern for the silk wall hangings and curtains.
Silk tissue was narrow woven in crimson, green and straw by Humphries Weaving for festoon curtains. The design was redrawn from the best surviving documents in the house. Another wider version of a similar design is in the Warner Textile Archive, which was woven on a man-made fibre binder warp in 1968. A similar design can be seen at Syon Park, Greater London in the Red Drawing Room.
Project reference: 1427
Previously the King’s Great Chamber in the Jacobean house the present Saloon room was created by Sir John Griffin Griffin in the 1760’s in order to display portraits of the heritage line of the owners of Audley End.
The 19th Century sitting room became a favourite family sitting room and after morning prayers in the chapel the family were said to take advantage of breakfast in the bay window where the floor is raised to take advantage of the view.
Humphries Weaving supplied silk damask curtains with glazed wool tammy linings in the Saloon to match with the existing mid 18th Century decoration . There are versions of a similar design in the Warner Textile Archive first woven 1899, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Project references: 783 / 797
The Library was the family sitting room when there were no guests in the house. Furniture and decoration were chosen for comfort, rather than elegance.
Humphries Weaving were commissioned to make silk damask curtains with glazed wool tammy linings for the restoration of the window drapes in the Library.
Project reference: 1116 /1119
The South Library
From 1786 – 1825 the South Library was the State Bedroom, which was subsequently moved to the north wing of the house. The room was converted to a library to house Lord Braybrooke’s topographical books.
Humphries Weaving were asked to supply pure silk damask, with lustring linings, all used for the restoration of the curtains in the South Library.
Project reference: 1436 / 1437
The Dining Room
The Dining Room as it stands today was made from combining two rooms and were conceived in 1825 by the third Lord Braybrooke, to replace the Adam reception rooms on the ground floor. The dining Room is of Jacobean design and was designed to be much less formal and grand, instead offering comfort and a more intimate dining experience.
The room has stunning double aspect views of the surrounding Capability Brown landscape and the walls were painted green in order to blend the inside and the outside. Humphries Weaving produced a Moiré silk and linen taboret stripe in green for pull up curtains in the Dining Room. The house inventory had described green pull up curtains and it was discovered that one of the rooms in the dolls house had two tiny curtains made from the fabric. One curtain was carefully removed and given to Humphries Weaving to reproduce the Stripe from this only surviving original fragment.
Project reference: 1440