I have a special knack for making it to exhibitions just before they are due to close, or else just plain forgetting about them until the day after they’ve closed. (Although it’s probably not so much a knack as a lack of organisation which is the culprit…)
2 Temple Place was somewhere I had been wanting to see for a while, but it’s only open a couple of months each year and, what with one thing and another, I never got there, always missing it for another year… Until the Saturday just gone, when I finally made it, only a week before it closes again until January 2016.
The house is currently (until Sunday) playing host to a marvellous wunderkammer, and the rooms have been filled with curious artefacts collected by eminent Victorians, but in this post I’m going to focus on the incredible details in the house itself.
(I apologise in advance that the photos aren’t the greatest quality, but the house was dark, and I forgot to charge the battery of my proper camera, so I had to make do with using my phone.)
The house was originally called Astor House, and was built for the American William Waldorf Astor (politician, publisher, hotelier, faker of his own death — by all accounts an interesting fella). It’s a gothic fantasy, covered in carvings inside and out — and the perfect place for such an exhibition as is currently on display there.
As I mentioned, there are carvings everywhere inside the house, but they’re a bit more unique than the usual stuff you see in these places, and many of them are charmimgly characterful.
Many of the carvings represent characters from some of Astor’s favourite books, including plays from Shakespeare, The Last of the Mohicans, Rip Van Winkle, The Scarlet Letter, and The Three Musketeers.
carved figures from The Three Musketeers
There’s also some lovely stained glass, which throws pretty colours across the wood panelling whenever the sun shines through.
The attention to detail was even noticable in the ladies’ loo, which had a very grand door, and nice views out of the windows. There was a pipe that for some reason had been painted to match the grain on the wood-panelling, and I noticed that the pretty piece of vintage cotton on display under the mirrors was embroidered with golden thread.
From Cotton To Gold is closed today (Tuesday) but open from tomorrow until this Sunday, the 16th. If you can’t make it (though I recommend you do), then you can read a pretty detailed account of the house here.