Beningbrough Hall - State closet


William Congreve, studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt, (1709) - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

William Congreve
studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
(1709)
NPG 67

In many Baroque houses the principal bedrooms for the family and their more important guests were on the ground floor, and were arranged in connecting suites known as 'apartments'. Elaborate protocol governed how far an eighteenth-century visitor was invited to penetrate along the line of progressively more private chambers. Upsetting such protocol, we now enter the most intimate of these rooms, the State Closet. The cupboard on the inside wall held that necessity of eighteenth-century life, the chamber pot.

The fireplace straddles the corner of the room and has a stepped overmantel for the display of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain, a fashion popularised in Britain by Queen Mary, in the late seventeenth-century. Many of the smaller chambers at Beningbrough contain similar overmantels similarly decorated. The pine panelling would originally have been painted, but was stripped in the 1920s by the Chesterfields following the fashion of the day.

Download In focus: State Bedchamber Suite