Thursday, May 12, 2016

Stradbroke Castle, Part 2

There were two posts I made last year while I was posting A Change of Legacies online that are still quite relevant to the published story:
I had, obviously, written the second one intending to have a part 2, but decided to hold on it until the book was published, so as not to spoil any more. So here, finally, is that part 2.

In part 1, I wrote about how the inspiration for Stradbroke came from both Skipton Castle and the timber-frame Speke Hall. As I was doing the edits for Legacies, however, I was eventually overcome by the nagging thought that an earl would likely have not built a timber-frame house to be attached to his castle, even if his family's political clout was already falling at that time. Skipton has a stone Tudor-era addition, but I did want Stradbroke to feel a bit more mismatched, so I decided to go with the comparably new building material for the time: brick.

Brick was a material that would have been considered less fashionable by the time of the Regency, but during the Tudor era, it was used for palaces, like Hampton Court and Hatfield, which also makes an appearance in Legacies.

The remaining portion of the old palace at Hatfield.

The interiors are still inspired by Speke Hall, however, and the castle still remains very much based on Skipton, so I thought I would post some more photos of its remarkably intact interior. These are the sorts of spaces Lady Ellen would have been reclaiming as living space, now that the old castle is actually the more fashionable, romantic space.

I adore this courtyard. It feels cool and pristine, now, but I imagine when the castle was in its heyday, it was bustling with people, and possibly animals.

The great hall is rather spartan compared to that at Speke Hall, below.

Speke Hall's great hall, with a quite epic fireplace.

One of the rooms in Skipton Castle.

As the room above shows, it would have been quite a task to convert over the rooms of the castle to livable spaces, which is presumably why Lady Ellen did not begin on this project earlier. The stone walls would need to be plastered, and more Georgian-style windows cut into the openings (this one is slightly larger than some of the others in the castle, but still not good for much beyond arrows or perhaps dropping boiling oil on someone).

In her observation of the room, Georgiana comments on the fireplace, and this is one thing Lady Ellen did not change. I think of Lady Ellen as having excellent taste; she decorated as we would today, adding some mod-cons, but still letting some of the character of the room's age show through. This medieval fireplace would have been designed for burning wood, while Georgian era fires were generally coal, burned in a little grate like the one shown from Saltram, below.

One of the fireplaces at Saltram.

Just looking at these three fireplaces, you can see a real evolution in interior design across the eras that Skipton, Speke, and Saltram represent. From medieval practicality to Tudor and Jacobean ostentation to Georgian refinement, they show the struggle Lady Ellen is up against in attempting to update Stradbroke, when Saltram's beautiful delicacy is the ideal she is attempting to meet.

There is hope, however. In the updated drawing room from Speke Hall that I showed in part 1, you can see a very fine Georgian fireplace!

The drawing room at Speke Hall.

That’s Right, it’s a Post About Privies

Yep, I decided to go there. My latest for Austen Authors is a post about where people went when they, well, had to go , during the Regency...