William Constable's Great Drawing Room
William Constable dithered rather when it came to the creation of Burton Constable's Great Drawing Room.
Designs for a Dining Room in this space were commissioned from both Thomas Atkinson and Timothy Lightoler, but William then appears to have changed his mind. Instead, a design was submitted by Lightoler for a museum to house William's Cabinet of Curiosities with an 'experiment room' attached. Given that William did at one point nearly kill himself experimenting with electricity (presumably putting the Hall at some risk of burning down too), it is perhaps fortunate that this design was superceded by another! In 1775 William married Catherine Langdale, who presumably took William's indecision in hand and requested the room now finally created - a Great Drawing Room commissioned from James Wyatt.
Although Wyatt did some work on the Great Hall (we have receipts of £246-6s-0d for supplying French glass for the mirrors), his notorious unreliability soon led William to employ the firm of Chippendale to complete the work. Chippendale's supplied the completed mirrors, a pair of pier tables to support Italian marble slabs brought back from William's Grand Tour, a large suite of furniture and a pair of window pelmets. Their bill alone came to £1,100, the equivalent of £86,000 today.
Other craftsmen were also employed on this grandest of projects. Jeremiah Hargreaves carved the three doorcases and added girandoles, decorative gilt-wood wall decorations, John Bacon carved a stone chimneypiece and Giuseppe Cortese completed the ceiling. Cortese's ceiling still provides something of a talking point among staff and volunteers -while it was described as being painted in a 19th Century book on the history of Holderness*, analysis has found no trace of paint remaining.
The walls of the Drawing Room were papered with green verditer, and would have looked quite dark to our modern eyes; besides the gilded mirrors, pelmets and girandoles there was little other embellishment.