In 1677 the manufacture of Gobelin tapestry was begun in France, and specimens soon began to decorate with wall panelling and oak panelling English walls.
Wollaton Hall, Near Nottingham (to whise Corporation it now belong).
A few years later M. Marquet began to make his beautiful furniture inlaid with different coloured woods, which came to be known as marqueterie and achieved a considerable vogue in this country. Early in the reign of Queen Anne the native manufacture of wallpapers was embarked upon, a type of covering often ound more economical as well as more cheerful in the high rooms of the period, where wall panelling and oak panelling had hitherto almost exclusively been used. This innovation was advertised in the press, and the following announcement from the Postman of 1702 gives an idea of the large variety of designs. "At the Blue Paper Warehouse in Aldermanbury (and nowhere else) in London, are sold the true sorts of figured Paper Hangings, some in pieces of 12 yards long, others after the manner of real Tapistry, others in imitation of Irish stitch, flowered Damasks, Sprigs and Branches, others in yard wide, Emboss'd work, and a curious sort of Flock Work in imitation of Caffaws, and other Hangings of curious figures and colours. As also Linen Cloth, Tapestry Hangings, with a variety of Screens and Chimney pieces, and sashes for windows, as transparent as sarconet." Another offers "imitation of Marbles and other coloured wainscots, which are to be put into Panels and Mouldings made for that purpose, fit for the hanging of Parlours, Dining rooms and Staircases ; and others in Yard wide Emboss'd work, in imitation of Gilded Leather". Here clearly was a precedent for the popular "Lincrusta" of late-Victorian times. But the most sought-after papers were those brought from China which were painted with flowers and birds in brilliant colours, some few of which, to our great good fortune, have survived. They were usually considered only suitable for bedrooms, and later in the century were found to make excellent backgrounds for Mr. Chippendale's furniture in the Chinese taste.
The painting of walls instead of wall panelling and oak panelling them , usually with allegorical scenes, became increasingly popular in great houses during the reigns of William III and Anne. At Burghley, for example, in the words of Mrs. Fiennes, there were "at least 2o rooms, very large and lofty that are all painted on the top". Verrio and Laguerre, two minor executants in the Baroque manner, were the foreign artists most in demand, and their work can be seen in houses all over the country. It was not until the appearance of Sir James Thorn hill (1676-1734) that an English artist was found to compete with them, the best specimens of whose work may be seen in the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral and the Painted Hall at Greenwich, for which he was remunerated at the rate of forty shillings a square yard. Domestic examples exist at Blenheim Palace, Char borough Park in Dorset and (until its recent gutting by fire) Stoke Edith in Herefordshire, among other houses. But to-day Thorn hill’s chief claim to distinction is as the master and later father-in-law of Hogarth.
Rooms of the Carolina and William and Mary periods would appear from pictures to have been rather sparsely furnished. The cupboards and commodes were inlaid with ivory and coloured woods in intricate patterns, the familiar straight-backed chairs being richly carved between their cane panels. In the reign of Anne walnut grew to be the fashionable material for furniture, the angular lines of the previous reigns giving way to the restrained curves and cabriole legs of this most famous of English "periods". The invaluable Celia Fiennes carefully describes Queen Anne's rooms at Windsor
"On the right hand is a large Antyroome for persons to wait, where are Marble tables in ye Peres between the windows; white damaske window curtaines and cane chairs. Next it is the Dinning rooms some steppes down, where was red silk curtaines Chairs and Stools, and Benches round the room all red silk, with some coulld. or rice Lace, here was a white marble table behind the door as a sideboard, and a Clap table under ye Large Looking Glass between the windows. Next this was a drawing room ; both these rooms were hung with small Image tapestry very Lively and fresh, here was Crimson Damaske window Curtaines, Chairs and stools. The next was what was Prince George's dressing room, hung, and window Curtaines Chairs and stools, all with yellow damasks, with marble chimney pieces as all ye Rooms have of Differing Collars. black, white and gray range etc., etc. Large Looking-glasses, all the rooms in all ye house is plainer unvarnished wall panelling and oak panelling in Wainscoted which Looks variegate."
Longford Castle: Thorpes
The most sumptuous and important piece of furniture remained the bed. The squat, bulbous four-posters of the Tudors gave way to beds of greater height and elegance. The tester was supported on tall, slender pillars and was often hung with stuffs of great richness. A splendid example is the bed hung with gold and silver tissue in the King's Bedroom at Knole which was made for a visit of James I and is said to have cost £8,ooo. A complete silver toilet set
Montacute House, Somerset, From the South East
was made for the same occasion at a cost of many further thousands ; and a bed chamber at Burghley about 1700 was "furnished very Rich, the tapestry was all blew Silk and Rich Gold thread, so that the Gold appeared for ye Light part of all the worke. There was a blew velvet bed with gold ffringe and very Richly Embroidered, all the Inside with ovals on the head piece and tester, where are so finely wrought in Satten stitch it looks Like painting." In other rooms "there was at least 4 velvet beds z plain and 2 figured Crimson-green. Several Coullours together in one; several Damaske beds and some tissue beds all finely Embroydered."
The wall panelling and oak panelling bedroom was the scene of the most extravagant displays of mourning. A bereaved husband or wife was expected to hang his walls with black, while the bed was draped with heavy black cloth and decorated with black plumes, even the coverlet being of the same colour. So rigid was this custom that a young Verney widow had to be excused to her relatives for having a white counterpane "because she is sick and cannot bear black cloth". These great mourning beds were sent round the family on the appropriate occasions, and the loan of the family bed was considered a considerable solace to the bereaved, though one might have supposed its presence would rather have served to emphasize the loss.
Under the Tudors, the number and variety of the servants employed in the households of the newly enriched had been prodigious-a regular incentive to the attacks of satirists and moralists. Even after the Restoration, when the whole country still suffered from the privations of the Civil War and Interregnum, there was little diminution in the quantity of persons employed by a great provincial landlord. That a good number was required for the running of the immense inconvenient houses of the period cannot be doubted, particularly as the function of male servants was not entirely menial but included the duties of guards and escorts when travelling. Nevertheless, the primary purpose of these menservants was ostentation, to impress the onlooker by their number and the splendour of their liveries. The affected footman was as much a butt for satirists in late-Stuart and early-Georgian times as in the pages of Punch during the reign of Queen Victoria; but he could afford to smile superciliously in the face of criticism, for the "vails" expected and generally received for the smallest services were on an exorbitant scale compared with nowadays. Steele devotes a whole edition of The Spectator to the subject of menservants
'Hardwick Hall, More Class Than Wall’
"They are but in a lower Degree what their masters themselves are; . . . you have Liveries, Beaux, Fops, and coxcombs, in as high perfection, as among people that keep Equipages." And elsewhere "There is nothing we Beaux take more Pride in than a Set of Genteel Footmen; I never have any but what wear their own hair, and I allow 'me a Crown a Week for Gloves and Powder".
Addison in the same periodical records another duty for the manservant. "I remember the time when some of our well-bred County Women kept their Valet de Chambre, because, forsooth, a man was much more handy about them than one of their own Sex. I myself have seen one of these male Abigails tripping about the Room with a looking glass in his` hand, and combing his Lady's Hair a whole morning together."
Another feature of the Stuart and early-Georgian household was the black servant, who, besides striking a fashionably exotic note, was also something of an economy since as a slave he required no pay. He had a tiresome habit, however, of trying to give the slip to his indulgent master, and advertisements such as the following were quite common : "A slender middle sized India Black, in a dark grey Livery,; with Brass Buttons, went from Mrs. Thwaits, in Stepney, the 4th of June." Or "A Negro Maid, aged about 16 yrs, much pitted with the Small Pox, speaks English well, having a piece of her left ear bit off by a dog ; she hath on a strip'd stuff waistcoat and Petticoat". Or again "A Tall Negro young fellow commonly known as Jack Chelsea, having a Collar about his Neck, with these words, Mr. Mosey Goodyear of Chelsea, his Negro".
Side by side with opulence and grandeur interiors in wall panelling and oak panelling went the squalor resulting from lack of sanitation. Sir John Harington's ingenious invention of the water-closet during the reign of Elizabeth had fallen upon an unappreciative public. The medieval privy had given way to a simple slop-pail, which, however adequate for country use, was distinctly unsuitable for the town, where it was generally simply emptied out of the window into the street. The stench of London, particularly in summer, was almost insupportable; Pepys describes how he was driven indoors one fine evening by "the stink of shying a smitten pot".
Early in the eighteenth century, however, a drainage system of sorts was evolved. Pipes and cess-pools became fairly usual in country houses; Isaac Ware shows a plan on which the lines of the drains are indicated, and mentions an improved drainage system built beneath the Horse Guards. Nevertheless the "closet" remained persistently scarce in great houses. In Kent's plan, dated 1734, of the vast piano nobile of Holkham, for instance, there is only one, and that without a window, tucked away in an odd corner formed by the apse of the hall. It had the merit, however, of being arranged as a double contrivance, seating two at a time, as may still be seen in remote farmhouses to-day. It was much the same in James Paine's plan for Kedleston twenty-five years later, though there the single closet could at least boast a window. Robert Adam, however, generally allowed a more generous supply. In the plan dated 1771 for Luton Hoo there were to have been four on the principal floor, and a moderate-sized house designed in the same year for Mr. Baron Mure was even better equipped. But Harewood and Sion, dating respectively from 1759 and 1761, had only one apiece.