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A Tour Of Tatton

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

Recently I was overjoyed to discover that The National Trust had announced their decision to throw open the doors to their historic mansions and country homes once again.

It was a blessing that the Trust kept their beautifully scenic parklands open to the public during lockdown, and I for one took advantage and visited as many local sites as possible. The parklands proved to be the sanctuary that I needed.

My closest parkland is Tatton, which is bursting at the seams with beautiful wildlife and points of historic importance. When I received confirmation that the mansion at Tatton was to be re-opened at last, I immediately booked tickets to tour it. The neoclassical architecture of the mansion is a marvel. It is breathtaking. I was therefore naturally keen to explore the interior, and my oh my was I blown away!

Upon entry you are greeted by an informal room decorated in the most gloriously golden colour palette. Traditionally, this room would have been used to host guests who were common visitors to the family.

The next room in the house is the grand dining room. This is embellished with the most ornate plaster-work, furniture, portraits and silverware. In a demonstration of his fine taste, the Lord had Baccarat, the legendary crystal house, design and produce custom pieces of crystalware for the family. You can see these on the dining table.

The next room is the most important in the house, the library, for the Egerton’s were a family of avid readers, and collected many books, especially during their extensive travels. The library houses many rare and fine copies, including various first editions and a book dating from the 15th century. Their most prized room, the family spent a lot of time in the library, and for this reason they elected that it be situated directly in front of The Italian Garden, by Joseph Paxton. The plush furniture in this room, as in so much of the house, is by Gillows of Lancaster.

The drawing room is next. This would be the room into which the gents would retire after supper to smoke their cigars and drink their port. The walls are adorned in luxury fabrics and finished with the most exquisite artwork, including by Canaletto, Poussain and Van Dycke.

Next is the music room, into which the ladies of the house would retire following a grand supper. The walls again carry the most breathtaking pieces of art, including a Rubens, and the room is full of exceptional furniture.

The tour continues on to the original entrance hall, where the ceilings are painted in pink, white and blue, representing the colours of the sky. The plasterwork on the ceiling is utterly magnificent. In this room stands a striking black Italian cabinet, encrusted with mother of pearl and gold. His Lordship would often play billiards in here and also entertain gatherings of guests.

As I made my way upstairs, I passed through the foyer of the house, the walls of which are home to portraits of various members of the family and their friends.

Several rooms upstairs were closed to the public and the ones that were open served as galleries, showcasing items that belonged to the family.

The tour continued through to the extended rear of the house, giving us a glimpse of the staff quarters. Treasures owned by the family, gathered during their frequent travelling, are also displayed. Interesting valuables were accumulated from Latin American, Africa and Europe. The tour ended with several rooms that further demonstrated how the servants lived and worked. One room belonged to the head house keeper, and from here she would schedule and maintain the day to day running of the staff and house. One room contained a cabinet full of spectacular Chinaware.

Lastly, the kitchen. I often think how the kitchen and scullery must have alternated between a cacophony of noise and chaos, when the family received guests, and quiet and calm, when the family was away. Hot, tiring and stressful, the kitchen was the engine room of the house - the current prevailing silence misleads, bearing no resemblance to the hive of activity it would once have been.

Lord Maurice Egerton bequeathed Tatton Hall to The National Trust in 1958. In his will Egerton instructed that ‘nothing be removed nor added’ to the house, so the Tatton you see today is exactly how it was when the Lord relinquished it - to our lasting gratitude.

- Ahmer x
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