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Regency Interior Style inspired by Jane Austen

Two recent foyer display room-sets at the Fair focused on Regency period style, inspired by interiors that would have been familiar to Jane Austen. One room was based on Mansfield Park, the grand fictional property filled with fine furniture and paintings, the other on Chawton Cottage. This is where Jane lived with her sister and mother for many years, a modest village home that would have been decorated in a vernacular, ordinary English country house style.

The displays were styled by Helen Linfield of Wakelin & Linfield, one of the UK’s leading experts on 18th and 19th century furniture and a regular exhibitor at the Fair.  The display re-created two rooms of different social echelons, as they might have looked in Regency England when Jane Austen was writing.  Whilst some items were fashionable up-to-the-minute Regency design (1811-1820), in the main the collection comprised numerous earlier periods that demonstrated the layering of history typical to most homes of the time.  The display included pieces from the late Stuart period through to 1817 the year of Jane’s death.  All items were selected from exhibitors at the Fair.

Mansfield Park Sheraton period longcase clock-Regency-bracket-mantel-clock Regency tripod table

Mansfield Park, Sheraton period longcase clock, Regency bracket mantel clock & Regency tripod table.

We were delighted to work with specialist historical wallpaper makers Hamilton Weston.  They produced, for the first time on this occasion, a pattern dating to circa 1780 that was used in the Chawton Cottage room.

The ‘Mansfield Park’ area re-created a formal country house drawing room of circa 1800-1815, with a mix of periods as you might expect in a wealthy country home: a fine Georgian bookcase, writing desk, comfortable upholstered late-Georgian wing-back chair, a Regency sofa and dining suite.

A wallpaper by Hamilton Weston called Royal Crescent was hand screen-printed to use in the ‘Mansfield Park’ drawing room, in shades of green, grey and white. The pattern of large but delicate swags and floral motifs was discovered in an 18th century parlour of a property in the Royal Crescent, Bath. It is a direct imitation of a Robert Adam design of the period, and dates from around 1775.

Chawton-Cottage-early-C19th-needlework-pictures-stand-out-against-the-Dashwood-wallpaper

Chawton Cottage, early C19th needlework pictures stand out against the Dashwood wallpaper.

Chawton Cottage showed a simpler, countrified and more sparsely furnished parlour; an oak gate-leg table served for a dining area, with ladder-back and Windsor chairs. Jane Austen wrote at a small pedestal occasional table. The walls featured samplers, silhouettes and etchings of the late Georgian period and watercolours that may have been executed by the ladies of the house.  English ceramics, creamware and brass or copper metalware finished the scene.

Hamilton Weston supplied a paper for Chawton Cottage they produced for the first time, based on a discovery from a housekeeper’s room of a house in central London -astonishingly, it was hung face down and appeared to have been used as a lining paper behind later wallpaper layers.  The document’s original colouring was black and white on a grey ground. The design has been re-drawn by architectural historian Robert Weston from a pieced-together collection of tiny and incredibly fragile salvaged fragments.  Now named ‘Dashwood’ (from the family in Sense & Sensibility), the design was block-printed for the Decorative Fair foyer using a white and dark grey pattern detail against a grey ground.  Grey was a very popular colour for wallpaper (which was expensive) as it served to disguise discolouration from candle and wood-smoke.

country-parlour-or-dining-room-designed-by-Helen-Linfield-of-Wakelin-Linfield

Country parlour or dining room, designed by Helen Linfield of Wakelin & Linfield.

country-parlour-or-dining-room-designed-by-Helen-Linfield-of-Wakelin-Linfield