The Country Home
Vol 1 May to October 1908
This article appeared in a bound half year of a monthly magazine ‘The Country Home’
kindly lent to me by Ken Rumsey
The many exhibitions which will be held in London during the coming summer will, no doubt, attract a larger number of visitors than ever to the metropolis. The quantity of things to be seen and the size, at least, of the great Franco-British Exhibition will make it difficult for many to find just what they would like to examine, and we have endeavored to discover, so far as is possible, those matters which are likely to be of interest to our readers. Maybe, after looking at the following pages, many who before were doubtful as to whether the exhibition would appeal to them will decide that they must, after all, pay it a visit.
It is common knowledge that the Franco-British Exhibition, which was opened on May 14th by the Prince of Wales, has become possible owing to the pleasant relations that of late years have prevailed between the two great countries concerned. The daily papers have told us of the size of the grounds a hundred and forty acres in extent and have kept us posted as to the progress of the work, the gradual, in some cases, in others the mushroom-like growth of courts and galleries and ornate buildings of white plaster which are appropriately styled palaces. To a few the decoration may appear overdone, but the many, no doubt, will appreciate it. Mr. Imre Kiralfy is a marvelous showman, and at night, under artificial light, we shall, no doubt, have another example of his genius as regards spectacular effect.
Then, in his own words, “The view will be specially dazzling. Every building will be picked out with rows of electric lights of many hues, and these will be reflected in the rippling waters, forming a masterpiece of colour more fairy like than the most fanciful imagination can picture.”
We cannot, however, think of Mr. Kiralfy only in the capacity of stage manager; we must recognize that his enterprise is strengthening the ties between France and England, making for the improvement of trade, and has, at a time when work is not easy to obtain, given employment to thousands of mechanics and labourers. This will not be so obvious to the visitor who comes on the scene now that the exhibition is open as it was to those who, like the writer, have had to make their way amongst armies of men, who for months at Shepherd's Bush have been striving in different directions but with the same ultimate object.
We think that the following contentions will be justified (1) That while not suffering from the drawbacks attendant on the mammoth shows of the United States, the Franco-British Exhibition will establish a record, and (2) That British manufacturers and producers will have an opportunity such as has not been enjoyed since 1862 of showing the progress that they have made. The amount of material that will be gathered together from France, from England, and from the Colonial possessions of both will be stupendous, and we cannot here attempt to deal generally with it. Art, Costume, Decoration, Machinery, Food, Education, will all be represented on a gigantic scale. The Olympic games will appeal to thousands of our countrymen, and have an international significance, while those who, visit exhibitions for amusement or wish for relaxation when they are there will not be disappointed.
After these few preliminary remarks we will see what matters call for attention which are cognate to those which come within the scope of ‘The Country Home’. The first to be mentioned may prove a little unexpected, for a Tudor house, unless it be but a representation, seems somewhat out of keeping with a modern exhibition, and one might be pardoned for wondering whether there was still such a thing at Shepherd’s Bush.
The explanation is very simple. Until quite recently an old Elizabethan building stood in Ipswich at the corner where Cox Lane meets Carr Street. During last year it was pulled down to make way for the enlargement of adjoining premises. Messrs. Gill and Reigate, whose names are well known in connection with antique furniture, bought the materials, numbered them as they were taken down, and conceived the idea of putting them together again, much in the same way that has been so much talked about in the case of Crosby Hall.
The Old Tudor House
The first site selected was one in the Franco-British Exhibition, though, no doubt, the trouble spent on restoring the house will not be allowed to be wasted, and it will again go through the process of being pulled to pieces and rebuilt. The door of the old house is a fine piece of workmanship, and bears the date 1563, though probably the building itself was older. This latter was converted into shops, but now, with the help of materials obtained in the same locality, the house has been fitted up once more as a dwelling-house. Where brickwork was required, original Suffolk “reds” have been put in. The paneling of the dining room was taken from an old house in Fore Street, Ipswich, and is quite in keeping with the rest of the house.
All sorts of details have to be borne in mind when restoring Tudor houses. The peculiarities of the district have to be studied; for instance, in the Eastern Counties the oaks are of straighter grain than those elsewhere, and as the outside timbers are made to follow the grain, they are upright in the Ipswich house, and not curved as are those in the Tudor buildings of Chester and Bristol.
We give an illustration of an old jack to be seen in the kitchen of the Tudor house. A point of interest is the excellent state of preservation in which the wood of the Tudor house was found to be, and the timbers were so skillfully mortised and tenoned that mechanical contrivances had to be employed to pull them apart, and this after they had been together for more than three hundred and fifty years.
It is intended to exhibit contemporary and later furniture in the rooms of the old house, as well as modern reproductions of old styles. Quite in keeping with the house will be the formal garden which Messrs. J Cheal and Sons of Crawley have reconstructed from authentic sources. It was not finished when our photographs was taken.
The Tudor house is not very much further from the new station on the Hammersmith and City Railway. It can be reached through the Palace of Textile Industries on the west side of the Court of Honour. Differing from our last subject in that it is merely a replica of an old building, may be mentioned the copy of the old Sulphur Well at Harrogate in which sweetmeats will be shown by Messrs. Farrar and Company of that town.
Messrs. Schweppes have had a copy made of the old house at Bristol called Fontaine House, in which the founder of their firm, Johan Schweppes, a chemist, first manufactured soda-water in 1789. A feature of the exhibit is the house-leeks on the roof and other plants in the crevices of the walls.
In the Decorative Arts Palace the committee (of which Mr. Charles Allom is the chairman) has arranged for a series of rooms to be fitted up illustrative of various periods. In many cases both the wall-coverings and the furniture are both original, but in one or two instances the walls have had to be reproduced. There will be a James I. room, and by the courtesy of Messrs. White, Allom and Co. we have seen the mantelpiece which will adorn it. There will be a Grinling Gibbons room, a Queen Anne room, of which the paneling came from the old Orthopaedic Hospital in Hatton Garden, a Chippendale room, and a George II. room. Messrs. Hampton and Sons are fitting up the latter and one or two others. Old Gothic furniture will also be represented. Among the exhibitors whose treasures will adorn this section are the Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort. Mrs. Hudson is lending a Sheraton piano which was made for the Queen of Spain. Sixteenth century furniture will be lent by Lord de L’lsle and Mrs. Percy Macquoid, while Lord Sackville is sending some Elizabethan chairs.
Mechanical Jack driven by hot air raising in the chimney.
There will also be representative series of old china and table glass, chosen and lent by well-known collectors. A host of matters dealing with the present-day decoration of the country home will be exhibited in the same section.
The Bromsgrove Guild will have on view a garden ornaments cast in metal, which are of special artistic merit. By the courtesy of the Guild, we will see one in lead as well as an example of a vase.
Many well-known makers of wall papers will be represented in this section, such as Messrs. Sanderson and Sons, Mr. Godfrey Giles, Messrs. John Line and Sons, and Mr. Jeffry. Ceramics will be shown by the Pilkington Tile Company and the Royal Worcester Company. Silks will be exhibited by Messrs. Debenham and Freebody and by Messrs. Wainer and Sons. Billiard tables, which form such a valuable adjunct to the country house, will be exhibited by Messrs. Burroughs, Watts and Co. and Messrs. Thurston and Co. Perhaps the largest exhibition of stoves brought together will be in this section.
The country cottage is in such vogue nowadays that it would be surprising if the erection of a number of these had not been contemplated. The First Garden City, Ltd., has, however, contented itself with showing plans and photographs, of which, by their courtesy, we shall see three, but Messrs. Oetzmann have put up a weekend cottage or bungalow, which is estimated to cost from £200 to £230. By the kindness of the builders we are enabled to give a plan of the cottage, the walls of which are of rough cast, while the roof is of red tiles. The features of the cottage are that the front door can be reached without disturbing the occupants of the living room, and that the kitchen and maid’s bedroom are separated from the rest of the house. These might be occupied by a caretaker and his wife, who would look after the cottage when the owner was away and attend to his needs at other times. Further suggestion has been made that the cottage would serve excellently as a gardener's lodge to a country house. In this case the three best rooms could be kept for visitors who could not be accommodated in the house, or used by the owner when the latter was shut up. The cottage is towards the north end of the Exhibition. An extra bedroom and a bath room (without fittings, however) can be added at a cost of from between, £270 and £300.
The plan of the Oetzmann’s cottage
A second cottage of larger pretensions will be found just behind the old Tudor house, and is part of the scheme of the Guild of Perfect Cottage Builders, and costs about, £400 or more to erect. A third model cottage will be found in the Irish village of Ballymaclinton, which we may mention here, as it cannot be considered under any particular heading. Its existence, though incidentally connected with the business of its originator, speaks for health reform and preventive medicine, for all the profits derived from it are to be used in the campaign against consumption in Ireland. The importance of this work will be manifest when it is pointed out that the number of deaths from this disease has decreased nearly fifty per cent, in this country during the last ten years, while in Ireland it has steadily increased.
Lady Aberdeen's Consumption Hospital, which has attracted so much attention in Ireland, will also be on view. The visitor is shown a hall divided into two compartments, one of which realistically portrays the home where consumption is likely to be rife, with its dirty furniture and its general air of oppressiveness, while the other shows an ideal arrangement in the same amount of space on hygienic principles.
The settlement portrays a typical Irish village, and occupies in all ten and a half acres, and the archaeological interest is quite as great as any other; in fact, the most striking building is the round tower. This is a replica of one of the numerous examples to be seen in Ireland at the present time. One, of which we reproduce a photograph, is situated near Antrim, and is an unusually fine example.
There is a certain amount of controversy respecting the origin and uses of these towers. Some writers attribute them to a race who lived in Ireland in ancient times, and who worshipped the sun.
This theory does not, however, seem to hold water, for the towers are invariably found in valleys, and not on hills as might have been expected. It is practically certain that they were built by the Christian monks in the tenth century as a place of refuge from the raids of the Danes. Upon sighting the enemy, the priests and villagers took their goods and fled to the tower, where they were safe from all assaults, even fire being of no avail against the towers.
The ruins of a Norman chapel are reproduced, together with some old Irish coffin slabs. One of these is of Anglo-Norman date, and our illustration well shows its cuneiform writing and the shears upon it. The latter show that the tomb was that of a woman who had her hair shorn, and from this we infer that she was an abbess or priestess.
The cottages, thatched and turfed in the old-fashioned way
The door of the old Tudor Cottage Refuge Tower near Antrim. Irish coffin top with shears
Another of these, which is called the Ogham stone, shows the earliest form of Irish writing, a certain arrangement of straight lines of varying length, cither vertical, or horizontal, or oblique, each group of which represents a particular meaning. The third stone is one erected to the memory of an Irish monk, and bears an inscription in Erse. A copy of an ancient Irish village cross and a holy well are also to be seen. In the various cottages which go to make up the village, and in which families of Irish people will reside during the exhibition, the visitor will be able to see the actual processes used in the manufacture of various Irish industries.
In one cottage two hand looms will be at work making beautiful Irish linen, which is so fine that 25/-. (£1.25) a yard is often paid for it. Hand-woven linen surpasses that made by machinery in the fineness of the yarn. The motion of the hand loom, being slower, does not put so much strain upon the yarn as a machine worked loom does, and consequently the weavers are able to use a much finer yarn without fear of its snapping. The time occupied in the manufacture of this linen is the factor that makes its price so prohibitive.
In a neighbouring cottage, girls will be at work making up the linen into hem stitched handkerchiefs, and the Irish carpet making industry will be represented in still another cottage, where peasant girls from Donegal will produce hand-made carpets, rugs, and Irish tweeds.
Sixty years ago every little town in Ireland possessed its soap works, now Donaghmore is the only inland town which manufactures soap in any large quantities. Mr. Brown, who is responsible for the whole idea of having an Irish village at the exhibition, is showing the manufacture of toilet and shaving soap from natural alkalies i.e. alkalies made from vegetable ash.
The cottages, thatched and turfed in the old-fashioned way, are typical of the dwellings in which Irish people live to-day. A pleasing contrast to these is the model cottage which is a replica of those erected by Mr. Brown for his tenants at Donaghmore. The rent for these cottages, placed in a garden of half an acre, is 2/- (10p) per week, and we are forced to envy the good fortune of those Irishmen who get such comfortable homes at such low rates.
Marvelously-trained trees shown by Messrs. Pinquet Guindon, Tours.
All the occupants of the village will be dressed in Irish costume. Two hundred girls and half that number of men, with several entire families, will be at work in the settlement. Everything seems to have been thought of for their comfort. Priests, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, will be in residence, and it is hoped that a detachment of the Royal Irish Constabulary will be there to aid in keeping the place in order.
The whole idea of the village originated with Mr. David Brown, of Donaghmore, and the work has been admirably carried out. The architect is Mr. W. J. Fenncll, of Belfast. Messrs. McLaughlin and Harvey have done the building, and the very important work comprised, under the word decorating has been entrusted to Messrs. George Morrow and Sons, of Belfast.
A novelty in the way of roofing is to be seen on the pavilion which Messrs. Maple & Co. have built for Messrs. Liebig & Company. It consists of Eternit Slates which contain asbestos, and are fire and damp-proof as well as being lighter and cheaper than ordinary slates.
Turning now to the horticultural side of the Exhibition, which at the moment of writing is by no means completed, we must mention the marvelously-trained trees shown by Messrs. Pinquet Guindon, of Tours. The two illustrations which we show will speak for themselves.
© Exhibition Study Group 2008