Monthly Archives: February 2012

Next Ye Best Chamber and the Passing Room

The Passing Room and Next Ye Best Chamber were the rooms that the best guests would pass through in order to enter their own bedroom for the night. The Best Chamber is at the end of the wing, and so there is some privacy here; no one passes through this room to access another.

Next Ye Best Chamber

Should the best guests have brought their own personal servants, they would be quartered in this small ante room located next ye best chamber. In the days before a bell system was installed at Tredegar House, servants needed to be within calling distance of their masters. Indeed, sometimes even in post-Tudor times some servants may have slept in the same room as their masters and mistresses, possibly at the foot of the bed. Click the link for a photo. http://www.gtj.org.uk/en/large/item/GTJ75170/

In later times the room that was next ye best would be used as a dressing room for the Best Chamber itself. The paintings currently hanging in here are not original to the Tredegar Collection and are, in the main, on loan.

The Passing Room

This was another guest room for much of the House’s history. These guests would not have had so much privacy as the best guests and their retainers would be passing to and fro as required.  http://www.peoplescollection.org.uk/Item/11619-the-passing-room-tredegar-house (The  link will take you to a picture of the Passing Room)

The colour scheme in here is rather dark and dull by today’s tastes; drab was used in bedrooms and guest rooms as, by candlelight,  it helped to accentuate the paintings and furniture that adorned these rooms. The over mantle painting is Seventeenth Century and depicts Apollo Pursuing Daphne. The gentleman to the left is John Morgan, the last in the male line, who died in 1792. When John died the Estate passed to his sister Jane and her husband Charles Gould. Charles adopted the family Arms and took the name of Morgan by Royal License.


The Best Chamber.

The Best Chamber

The Best Chamber at Tredegar was the bedroom for the very best guests. If you were put in here for the night you were someone special. Since the Eighteenth Century the Best Chamber has been accessed via an upstairs corridor ending at the door in the picture. However, the corridor did not exist prior to that. It was created by erecting walls through the bedrooms. The only way for the best guests to get to their bedroom had been through the other bedrooms – enfilade, the French style.  The bed you see in the photograph to the right is a mock up. The bed that was here is believed to have measured nine square feet and was the state bed; probably the one that Disraeli and his wife spent the night in.  Sadly, when Tredegar House became a school in the Fifties, the bed seems to have been broken up and adapted for use as an altar and altar rails for the school chapel.

The panelling in the Best Chamber is original, as is the ceiling. The Best Chamber ceiling is one of only two (possibly three) surviving from the Seventeenth Century. The ornate plasterwork seems to be very similar to that of the one in the New Hall which had collapsed in the school years.

The Seventeenth Century Ceiling

The Best Chamber became a family bedroom by the Twentieth Century, and when Princess Olga Dolgorouky married Viscount Tredegar in 1939 this was known as the Pink Room, probably because of its faded red damask walls. It was not a happy marriage or a very long one (it was annulled) and twelve years later the Sisters of Saint Joseph transformed the bedroom into a classroom. Newport Council bought the House in 1974 and began an extensive restoration project. It was decided to restore the Best Chamber to its original Seventeenth Century splendour, as it would have been for the special guests of William and Blanche Morgan of Tredegar Park.


The Morning Room at Tredegar House

If you are a member of one of the parties coming on the Group Tours of Tredegar House on March the Seventeenth (the very last tours under Newport City Council) you will enter through the Victorian Porch and into the Side Hall. To your left you will notice a smaller room decorated in the Regency style. This is the Ladies Morning Room.

The Morning Room

The Morning Room looks as if Miss Elizabeth Bennett and her sisters should be seated in there. The wallpaper is copied from a design at Clandon Park which dates to 1810 and the Brussels carpet was recreated fitted for the Morning Room based on a carpet made in Paris in 1829. Much of the furniture is Rosewood and of the same period. However, this was not always a room for the ladies of the House. A Seventeenth Century inventory describes this as “The Drinking Roome” and gives its contents as 10 leather back chairs and an oval table – and that is all.

The Morning Room - looking in.

The Spring Clean continues at Tredegar as around us officials from the National Trust are busy making arrangements for the takeover on March the Nineteenth, and for the first visitors at Easter. When you visit Tredegar House as a National Trust property you will not enter this way (see my previous post on the New Hall), but it will continue to be part of the visitor experience.

When Tredegar House was a school (1951 – 1974) the Side Hall was the visitors’ entrance and the Morning Room was a waiting room. Prior to that it had been an office for the secretaries of the last Lords Tredegar who lived here. These days, apart from being on show to visitors, it is used by the Registrar prior to wedding ceremonies held in the New Hall. It does have something of an air of intimacy and privacy.


The Dining Room at Tredegar House

The original dining room at the Restoration Period Tredegar House was the Brown Room, which featured in a previous post here. The present Dining Room changed from being a drawing room in the Late Eighteenth or Early Nineteenth Century. It was still being used as the Dining Room up until the Morgan family left the House and sold it to the Sister’s of St Joseph, when it became a school chapel.

The Copeland Spode dinner service was donated to Tredegar House by the last Lady Tredegar in 2000. It is not complete, but it is substantial. It dates to the 1880s and bears the family crest with the motto, Si deus nobiscum quis contra nos, below it. Usually the service is dusted during the Spring Clean, but every five years it needs to be washed and this year is dish-washing year. Tempting as it was to put them in the kitchen sink, every piece had to be washed and rinsed with swabs made from cotton wool.

There is another earlier Copeland service dating to about 1850. Both services would have been part of elaborate table settings for the huge dinners that Tredegar witnessed over the years. Whilst cleaning these plates, I can’t help wondering who has eaten off them. Godfrey Morgan, the first Viscount himself or his brother Frederick who who come down from his nearby home in Ruperra Castle? Perhaps Godfrey’s sister Lady Hereford who often came visiting and liked to think that she gave a woman’s touch to this bachelor pad. In the Twentieth Century when Evan Morgan became Viscount, there was a very eclectic choice of dinner guests seated around the table.  The plates would have been placed in front of the likes of H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, Augustus John, Ronald Firbank, Nancy Cunard, Prince Paul of Greece and Aleister Crowley.

The Victorian Dining Room

The Dining Room has been used extensively in television programmes, both factual and fictional; The Victorian Kitchen and the Hairy Bikers have used it and Torchwood and Doctor Who fans might recognise it too. Indeed, the Late Victorian Chenille carpet in the Dining Room is the only one left behind by the last of the Morgans; however, for true fans  this is the room where Queen Victoria knighted Dr Who at Torchwood House!

A feature of the painted glass windows

The most striking features of this room are the ceiling (Victorian), the fireplace (Regency) and the painted glass armorial windows (Queen Anne possibly?) as well as the panelling which is original to the Restoration House. When the panelling was put up this room was known as the New Parlour, so named to distinguish it from the Old Parlour in the Tudor wing of the House.  The New Parlour was very much a  family room, away from the state rooms and entrance hall on the other wing.