A visit to Wightwick Manor & Gardens in Wolverhampton.
It was a cold Sunday afternoon. The manor is in the Tettenhall area of Wolverhampton.
The legacy of a family’s passion for Victorian art and design, Wightwick Manor (pronounced "Wittick") is a Victorian manor house located on Wightwick Bank, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England. Owned by the National Trust since 1937, the Manor and its grounds are open to the public. It is one of only a few surviving examples of a house built and furnished under the influence of the Aesthetic movement and Arts and Crafts movement. Wightwick was built by Theodore Mander, of the Mander family, who were successful 19th-century industrialists in the area (Mander Brothers), and his wife Flora, daughter of Henry Nicholas Paint, member of Parliament in Canada. It was designed by Edward Ould of Liverpool in two phases; the first was completed in 1887 and the house was extended with the Great Parlour wing in 1893. Notes taken by Theodore Mander at a lecture given in Wolverhampton in 1884 by Oscar Wilde on the ‘House Beautiful’ inspired Wightwick’s interiors.Taking inspiration from this lecture, Theodore and his wife Flora decorated its interiors with the designs of William Morris and his Arts and Crafts contemporaries.
This family house is a notable example of the influence of William Morris, with original Morris wallpapers and fabrics, De Morgan tiles, Kempe glass and Pre-Raphaelite works of art, including works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Evelyn De Morgan, Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and John Everett Millais
The Manor has the work of 11 professional female artists on permanent public display, more than any other in the National Trust, including notable examples of works by Lizzie Siddal, Evelyn De Morgan, Lucy Madox Brown, Marie Spartali Stillman, May Morris and other female artists. Most of these artworks were collected by the Manders.
In 1937 Geoffrey Mander a radical Liberal MP and local paint manufacturer who had been left the timber-framed house by his father Theodore, persuaded the National Trust to accept a house that was just 50 years old, under the Country Houses Scheme Act.
This house of the Aesthetic Movement was, by 1937, a relic of an out of fashion era. Yet, so complete was the design that it was worthy of preservation. Having given the house to the Trust, Geoffrey Mander and his second wife, Rosalie, became its live-in curators, opening the house to the public and adding to its contents. In particular they added a notable collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Rossetti, Burne-Jones and their followers.Descendants of the family retain a private apartment in the manor.
The house has 14 acres of Victorian garden and the outbuildings house stables (now a tea room); a gallery in the old malt house; gift shop; and an antiquarian bookshop.
It is situated just off the main A454 Wolverhampton to Bridgnorth road, approximately three miles to the west of the city centre.
The manor has been Grade I listed on the National Heritage List for England since July 1950, and its gardens are Grade II listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
Grade I Listed Building
SO89NE WIGHTWICK BANK
895-1/4/178 (West side)
29/07/50 Wightwick Manor
House, now owned by the National Trust. 1887; extended 1893.
By Edward Ould for Theodore Mander. Interior design by William
Morris and C.E. Kempe. Brick with ashlar dressings and timber
framing; tile roofs with brick stacks. Originally L-plan with
west wing and north service wing with square tower to angle,
later extended to T-plan with east guest wing. Vernacular
Revival Style. South garden facade of 2 storeys, 5-window
range to west. Timber-framed 1st floor; 2 projecting gables
and right end cross wing with enriched bargeboards. Ground
floor has cusped elliptical-headed lights to brick-mullioned
windows; 1st floor has mostly canted timber oriels; small
balcony to left of right end wing. Single-storey hall range to
east has 2-storey cross wing; timber framing on ashlar plinth;
richly carved bressummers, bargeboards etc. Hall has large
gabled bay window with enriched timber mullioned and transomed
windows with leaded glazing; other windows similar; cross wing
has paired canted 1st floor oriels, gabled dormer to left;
east return similar with end cross wings; treatment continued
to north gable end. Many stacks with oversailing caps, those
to east wing with richly moulded shafts. North elevation of
west wing has 2 gables with ingle stack to right; gabled
timber-framed 2-storey porch projects at angle with
inscription over battened door; tower has embattled parapet.
Service wing has simpler details and hipped roof; tile hanging
to 1st floor, plastered east elevation; small kitchen court
between service wing and east wing.
INTERIOR: has Morris wallpapers and fabric hangings
throughout, some brought in during C20; contemporary electric
light fittings by Benson. Drawing room has ingle fireplace
with window seat, panelled dado, fabric hangings, moulded
cornice and ceiling, Kempe glass from his house (Old Place),
fireplace with de Morgan tiles; hall has re-used C17 panelling
from Old Manor (q.v.), window seat, Kempe glass; library has
shelving and panelling, tiled fireplace with monochrome
overmantel painting; morning room has cupboards with Spanish
style ironwork, fireplace with de Morgan tiles; great parlour
has painted arch-braced roof with panelling, fabric hangings
over panelling with painted relief plaster frieze over, large
ingle fireplace with seats and tiles, 2 ogee-headed entrances
to west end; billiard room has ingle fireplace with tiles and
copper hood, dais with balustrading, plaster ceiling, window
seat; dining room has plaster ceiling, built-in sideboard;
stair has turned balusters. 1st floor guest rooms have wall
hangings, wallpapers, and fireplaces; family rooms are
simpler, some fireplaces and built-in cupboards, some C17
panelling from Old Manor House. The house is an important
example of the architecture and design of the late C19,
containing much work by the leading designers of the day; one
of only a few such houses.
(Shell County Guides: Thorold H: Staffordshire: London: 1978-:
P.182-5; The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: Staffordshire:
London: 1974-: P.310-11; Girouard M: The Victorian Country
House: London: 1979-: P.375-80).
Listing NGR: SO8694698441
This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.
Various views of the manor house while exploring the grounds and gardens (after the visit inside of the house).
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