Things are going quite well with the Spring Clean now. We have had to change the schedule somewhat as new events are booked in. However, being flexible is the answer, and so we have made a start on the Library and its safe.
I have been wearing my Learning Facilitator’s hat this week too, and consequently have not been participating in the Clean quite as much. We managed to complete the New Hall before a Stuarts Workshop was due to take place in there. Our Stuarts Workshop is popular with primary schools (Key Stage 2). While one group of pupils is up in the Master’s Bedchamber learning about life in a Seventeenth Century home, the others are in the New Hall being instructed in Baroque dances and the associated social etiquette.
Before the 1860s, the New Hall was the main entrance into Tredegar House. However, after a porch and doorway replaced a window in the Side Hall on the other wing, the New Hall came to be used as a Drawing Room. Today, it is used for a multitude of functions and events. This is where wedding ceremonies are conducted, mayoral functions, period dances, folk dancing and carol singing, lectures and concerts and even the occasional final showdown between Doctor Who and The Master! It has not been an entrance hall for a long time though. That seems set to change. The National Trust is very keen to have visitors approach Tredegar House towards the North West wing and into the New Hall. This will mean quite a few changes, but I get the feeling that any problems will somehow be overcome.
Sadly, although Twenty First Century visitors will come into the House the same way as Seventeenth Century visitors did, they will not be met with the same spectacle. The main difference is the ceiling. The grand ceiling with its ornate plasterwork came crashing down in the mid-Twentieth Century and there is a rather unimpressive functional local authority replacement in its stead. The large fireplace probably dates to the Regency Period and the present floor covers an original flagged or tiled surface. Most of the paintings in the New Hall are on loan from the Dulwich Picture Gallery. There is one painting of note, if not for its artistic qualities, then for its content.
Here we see the New Hall in the Regency Period. The Grand Staircase and the fireplace are visible and similar to that seen by visitors today. The painting also gives a glimpse of that old ceiling. We are not certain who the artist was, but there is a tradition that it was painted by one of the Morgan children themselves. There they are, by the way, lined up at the foot of the stairs like something out of The Sound of Music.