This past weekend we went on a tour organized by the Sloane Club of Iconic Abodes. We started on Saturday with Strawberry Hill, which is just outside London in Twickenham. This is a glorious confection constructed under the direction of Horace Walpole in 1747-1792. He described it as a “little Gothic castle” and it began the Gothic Revival style of architecture and design.
Inside I found a few decorative horses on the ceiling of the library. These depict Crusaders.
If you had been a Crusader, riding in a suit of armor, your stirrups would have looked like this. I also found one of the stained glass windows in the blue bedroom had decorative horses: a battle scene, chivalry?
In the afternoon we went to see the impressive and imposing State rooms in Buckingham Palace. There were a few horse portraits there but photography is strictly forbidden. On Sunday we went to Salisbury in Wiltshire to see Arundells, the home of former British Prime Minister Edward Heath.
I found a few horses here as well. First of all in the dining room where I learned Sir Edward had made 25 visits to China and had purchased some horse figures there including the central figure in this picture which dates from the Tang dynasty (618-907CE)
On the wall in one of the hallways I found this cartoon. The significance of Sir Edward as the “Lone Ranger” is lost on me. The two wanted posters on the tree are Maggie Thatcher and John Major. If anyone knows the meaning behind this cartoon please leave me a comment below.
We then went on to Salisbury Cathedral.
I learned something while in the Cathedral. On graves which have sculptures of the person buried there is often a dog or a horse at the foot of the entombed person. Sometimes there is a lion. If there is a lion the person died in battle and if a horse or a dog the person died at home. Here the wife had a small dog and the gentleman a horse. .Our last stop of the day was to Wilton House. This is the home of the Earl and Countess of Pembroke.
Wilton House , as it is a private residence, does not allow photography. But I have to admit there were a few horses that I could not resist. Here is one from the ceiling of one of the reception rooms which is the most bizarre rendition of a horse I have ever seen.
Then on another ceiling there is the Conversion of Paul, who is on a paint horse!
Finally in a study there is a marvelous collection of paintings of horses of the Haute Ecole that fascinated the 10th Earl of Pembroke. He was a keen rider and studied the movements for military purposes and had a riding school and arena at Wilton House. These paintings of horses executing the Haute Ecole movements cover two of the walls in the study. Here is one that describes the coloring of the horse. A Knabstrupper?
Here is a portrait of The 10th Earl of Pembroke ( 1734-1794) with his regiment.
That concluded our Iconic Abodes tour. Several of the other tour members knew of my interest in horses and asked about the pictures with the Haute Ecole movements and asked if I did any of those. I told them I did not and explained the competitive dressage does not include those but they could see them in Vienna at the Spanish Riding School.
Tomorrow we fly home. I have had a wonderful time in London and we have enjoyed spending some time with our son but both of us will be happy to be home. I shall be seeing Biasini on Wednesday. I wonder if he has missed me?
I’d love to hear from you!