After several days indoors on various tasks, we decided it was time to down tools and go out.
Saltram (this photo taken in 2011 on a much sunnier day than today)
We decided on Saltram, a National Trust property near Plymouth, South Devon. We last visited in December to see the house decorated for Christmas (if you have been reading my blog for some time you might remember this.)
We parked our car and decided that instead of lunch (usually my first consideration on such a visit!) we would have a walk first, as the weather was both mild and dry (but not sunny), then have lunch and finally, visit the house which we had seen many times before but which is always a joy to see.
Those of you who enjoy period dramas might remember that Saltram was chosen for the property in the film Sense & Sensibility to play the role of Norland Park, the home that the Dashwood family must leave after their father dies. But Saltram was well known before the film crew moved in. It is an amalgamation of Palladian, rococo, neoclassical, and Regency styles, but all the styles marry beautifully.
It was John Parker who, when he took over the house in 1768, engaged the most fashionable architect and interior decorator of the day – Robert Adam – to give the house a makeover.
And what a makeover it was! Indeed, the results are considered one of the finest examples of Adam interiors. John Parker and his wife Theresa were wealthy and collected many works of art and had their own portraits painted by their friend, none other than Sir Joshua Reynolds (fashionable portrait painter and first president of the Royal Academy.)
The Lime Avenue
But first, as I say, we had a stroll in the gardens, just as the Parkers might’ve done almost 300 years ago when John Parker inherited Saltram. There are no less than 500 acres to the estate stretching down to the River Plym, but we confined our walk from the house, through the lime avenue to the Castle Folly.
The Castle Folly
We then retraced our steps back towards the Castle Tea Room via the Orangery …
Saltram from the gardens (I love this wild flower bed)
The Chapel Tea Room (almost obscured by this huge tree)
There are various places where one can eat at Saltram, including a large restaurant, but we thought that we’d have just a light lunch here, at the Chapel Tea Room, and went in to choose sandwiches, cake and out blend of tea. We then opted to sit outside because although it wasn’t sunny, it wasn’t cold.
Saltram as seen from the Chapel Tea Room
We sat at the vacant table you can see in the photo above, from where there was a lovely view of this beautiful house. There were a lot of people enjoying themselves, lots of children playing on the lawn, but none was rowdy, indeed, there was little noise, and it was lovely to see little ones enjoying themselves.
While husband went to sit at a table I went into the Chapel Tea Room and ordered for us – sandwiches, one slice of cake to share (it was such a huge slice) and tea (ordinary Breakfast tea, but it was loose-leaf tea which came in a large tea pot with a strainer for the tea leaves.)
It was a veritable feast, the sandwiches were delicious. Nothing out of the ordinary, just cheese & chutney for me and ham with salad for husband, but the quality was what counted, and they’d not stinted on quality or quantity of ingredients. The cake was cappuccino cake and was equally lovely (such a large slice, we shared it, and the waitress remembered to bring an extra plate, an extra cake fork, and a knife for us to cut it.) The tea pot was so large we managed three cups of tea each (thankfully, the loo was close by!)
After our lunch we made our way to the house, and we were told that the Saloon, Adam’s masterpiece, is currently being renovated and was heavily scaffolded. We were too late for a tour (i.e. being taken up the scaffolding) to see the ceiling renovations, but I’m not entirely certain that I would’ve wanted to climb the scaffolding anyway! After almost 300 years the paint, which was last renovated in the late 1940s, is now flaking, so a lot of work is being carried out. Also, the huge Axminster carpet (at the time the largest one that the Axminster factory had made) is being conserved by having linen attached to the back to strengthen it. It is currently on rollers down the centre of the room.
The Saloon, Saltram, currently with scaffolding (the carpet is on a huge roller in the centre of the room
And this (photo below) is how the room usually looks (a photo taken in 2011, please forgive the quality, but the blinds were drawn to prevent light-deterioration, and as flash photography isn’t permitted, the long-exposure without a tripod caused some blurring.)
There are more than 4,000 crystals in the pair of Venetian glass chandeliers (these were installed some years after Adam designed this room.)
Next to the Saloon is the dining room (originally the library) and some of the wonderful furniture made by Thomas Chippendale to Adam’s design and for the Saloon is being stored in here with paintings propped against the walls.
One item of furniture of the suite designed for the room by Robert Adam, covered in silk damask
The ceiling is beautiful, and worth a look …
Dining Room ceiling, designed by Robert Adam
From here we visited the kitchen which is high to allow smoke from the original fires to vanish upwards and out of the high windows …
And from the kitchen we made our way upstairs to see what I think is the second most interesting part of the house (Robert Adam’s work being the first): the Chinese wallpaper.
Two bedrooms have this wonderful hand-painted original Chines wallpaper. I took the above photo today, but these two photos below I took in 2011:
Although I love the Chinese wallpaper – it is exquisite – I also love this bedroom (photo below) which I think would be so cosy to go to bed in (if “cosy” is a word one could use to describe such sumptuousness!)
I have even given this photo a pale blue border as I love this room so much, I would love a room like this, a four poster bed with wonderful drapes, white bed linen, and a beautiful fireplace. Ah, we can but dream …
Downstairs next, to the Library, there is a room where there is a lovely cabinet filled with gorgeous cermics, mainly animals – I loved the cats!
There is so much to see at Saltram, but some of the rooms have been given over to the conservation project and are currently not set up as they are usually set up. But nonetheless there is still much to see. And don’t forget the details: Adam designed just about everything in his rooms when he performed his architectural magic, right down to the door furniture. I think you will agree that ScrewFix or Ironmongery Direct would have a job replicating this …
Not my best photo, but I was having to be very quick with so many visitors there.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual tour of Saltram, it’s one of my very favourite National Trust properties in Devon.
Until next time.