Sudbury Hall

Sudbury Hall

Next up in my country house queue is Sudbury Hall. If you are a fan of the 1995 “Pride and Prejudice” miniseries (and who isn’t?), some of these interiors are going to look familiar to you! As in the last post, all of the videos are 360s, so you can either just watch them or “take control” and look at whatever you want.

From the outside, Sudbury is very Jacobean/Restoration in its facade, which actually could be period-appropriate based on what we know about Pemberley, but doesn’t, I think, match most peoples’ mental picture of that fictional house (the exteriors of Pemberley were filmed at Lyme Park).

Sudbury Hall facade

In addition to the house itself, the former stables now house the National Trust Museum of Childhood. I’ve got much too much house to show to go into too much detail of that, as well, but I will share this Regency era doll as an example:

Regency era doll

Aside from its film connections, Sudbury is a great place to visit as an example of the evolution country houses were going through, both when it was built, and over time. It had a lot of placards explaining various changes that had taken place over the house and what era particular rooms dated from. One example of the way country houses at this time were evolving is in the great hall, below.

Great hall

We’ve moved on from the old medieval/Tudor great halls, with their hammerbeam roofs, the halls where the entire family and their servants would have eaten and slept. But it is a still large, separate space that could be used as needed for the customary entertainments of not only one’s equals in society, but also of tenant farmers and servants. By the Georgian era, these have started to fall off or are moved to separate servants and tenants’ halls, and the great hall becomes the entrance hall: still an impressive space, but not commonly a room for entertainment anymore.

There are definitely areas of the house that seem Pemberley-ish, even ones that I don’t recall seeing featured in the movie, like the library:

library

Or this sitting room:

drawing room

Or small dining room:

small dining room

These and the grander rooms you’re about to see show that many country houses have a real mix of living spaces. Unfortunately you don’t always get to see the more “family” rooms because they’re in separate wings, sometimes still lived in by the family, and so it’s only the grand state rooms that are on tour.

Speaking of grander rooms, let’s just go ahead and show one of the two you’ve probably been waiting for, the great staircase:

great staircase

What you don’t necessarily catch as much of in watching it on television is the rather Baroque decoration of this room, which makes sense in a house of this age, that some spaces would have been finished in the brief era when it was popular in English country houses, or perhaps updated during that time. Like the ceiling:

ceiling

Or this carving above the staircase newel:

carving of flowers and fruits

Personally, I don’t think of Pemberley as being Baroque in terms of its interior decoration:

The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of their proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendor, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings.

To me, Baroque is a whole lot of gaudy and uselessly fine, and I’ve always thought of it as more of a neoclassical interior (we’ll be seeing some great examples of that in upcoming posts). I suppose the furniture could be thus and the wall and other decoration more Baroque, but I don’t think Elizabeth would be complimenting Darcy’s mismatched taste, if that was the case.

Things get even more Baroque in the saloon:

Saloon room

saloon ceiling

saloon carving detail

We’ll go downstairs briefly to the kitchen. This one is more of a melding of different eras, but I think generally more Victorian and Edwardian in terms of features.

kitchen stove

It also has an incomplete alteration I believe from the Edwardian era (you can see a certain re-flourishing of past styles, which was meant to be a very high-ceilinged billiard room.

billiard room

We’ll go up two flights of stairs now to the other room I expect you’ve been waiting for, the long gallery. It’s basically impossible to walk down the gallery without fangirling over recalling Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy doing the same. Again, though, it’s more Baroque when you get a chance to study it than I recall from the movie.

long gallery room

long gallery ceiling

I’ve one last grand room to show, the Queen’s room. It’s very fitting to the general era of the interior decoration, with its silk damask wall hangings.

Queen's room

I also love this little detail, a book carrier. These mini-shelves could be used to carry books from one room to another (very useful considering how many “books” came in multiple volumes at that time) and were a common piece of furniture in the Georgian/Regency eras.

On the opposite side of the upstairs area is this great example of the house changing and being redecorated over time, this highly carved Tudor/gothic revival fireplace that only the Victorians could give us!

highly ornate fireplace

And just before the great staircase upstairs you get a completely different period with this art deco library:

library with balcony and stairs

Sigh, I do love a library!

In last week’s post on Shugborough, we had a chance to look at a Georgian era farm. One of the things that was most interesting about Sudbury was that it’s one of those houses that never moved its village farther away for landscaping or agricultural reasons (I’ve been reading about this and it wasn’t always for aesthetic reasons; sometimes it just made sense as part of re-configuring farms). What this means is that you get a chance to see the supporting village as well as the estate buildings.

There’s the stable and its yard, of course:

stable yard

Then as you walk further along into the village…

village road

…you reach the yard for the estate buildings which would have contained things like the steward’s office and maintenance buildings (now converted into shops, of course):

estate yard

Further into town and there is an inn, shops (including a butcher), school, and housing:

inn

house

butcher

And even the village stocks!

stocks

On the other side of the great house is the church:

church exterior

church interior

I usually find when I’m visiting these houses and considering them as settings for this time period that I have to gear up the old imagination to envision them as lived-in houses, and often stitch things together from various houses I’ve been to. I went to Sudbury because of the P&P connection, but I was extra glad I did because it gave me the chance to understand more about the estate and the supporting village than any house I’ve been to so far.

I must close out for now, but next up we’ve got Nostell Priory, which was actually my favorite out of all the ones I visited in this trip, so watch this space!

15 Responses to Sudbury Hall

  1. Awesome pictures and posts. I particularly liked the kitchen. LOL Can’t imagine what the help went through in those days to put on a good holiday spread. Thanks.

  2. I am completely doing my fan-girl dance here. Love the pictures and the video and your explanations of the architecture and the periods. Man, that was so cool. I need a rest. I am exhausted over this visit. Whew! I am exhausted and I didn’t have to do the walking. Thank you for sharing this post with us. I LOVED it.

    • I’m so glad to hear you loved the post, J. W.! I so love sharing all of these places with everyone…and it’s a chance for me to visit them twice, in a way. šŸ™‚ Thank you so much for your comment!

  3. Although I love the artistry of the Baroque style, even the fussiness, and can appreciate the craftsmanship, I’m not sure I could live with it. But I fell in love with the staircase. Absolutely gorgeous. Thank you for sharing. šŸ™‚

    • Definitely agree with you, Gianna! I appreciate the artistry but it’s just too much. The staircase is just restrained enough that I like it though. Thank you for your comment!

  4. A wonderful, wonderful post. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I love historic houses and have visited many here in Ireland. I love the feel of them and imagining the people who lived there. Thank you for this.

    • Thanks for your comment, Teresa! So glad to hear you enjoyed it. And yes my favorite thing is letting my imagination run free there, thinking about who lived there and envisioning our fictional characters in such spaces.

  5. Wow this is an awesome tour. Thank you for sharing. Love these pics and vidoes. Definitely loved the library too. Luckily now we have the kindle/pc to store all our books.

    Just thinking if any who lived there felt a little uncomfortable in those areas with those large painitngs. Feels like someone is always watching you šŸ˜‰

    • Thank you for your comment! And yeah I think it would be strange to have large portraits around, all of your ancestors staring at you all the time….although from what I understand the houses often display them in rooms they wouldn’t usually have been displayed in because organizations like the National Trust have such large collections that they display where they can.

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