Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Plenty of Olde English Choices for New England House Tour Lovers

The Luxist recently had a brief roundup of some of New England's great estate tours, including Lenox, Massachusetts' Ventfort Hall, an impressive Elizabethan Revival mansion that really showcases the Gilded Age revival style.

PHOTO CREDIT: www.guildedage.org.

A sister of J. Pierpont Morgan purchased the property in 1891 and hired prominent Boston architects Rotch & Tilden, to design the house (above) which also served as 'the orphanage" in the movie Cider House Rules. Another revival standout is Hammond Castle (below) in Gloucester, Massachusetts - a medieval style castle built during the 1920s. It's currently open as a museum and includes displays of medieval armor.

PHOTO CREDIT: www.hamondcastle.org.

Having spent considerable time in Massachusetts over the past several years, I can attest to the fact that this region is home to many beautiful and well-preserved examples of Medieval and Tudor revival homes. Check out the rest of the article HERE.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Equinox - and Thoughts About H.G. Wells

The special Sept. 21 Google home page art made me take notice, and though a futuristic writer like H.G. Wells may seem a little out of place on these pages, he remains a staple of Edwardian thought, as well as one of my favorite writers. Surprisingly, it was this photo of him (left) standing in the doorway of this nice, solid-looking English house which caught my notice, and which inspired me to take a little longer look at this writer's world.

For example, I did not know that Wells attended free lectures on socialism at Kelmscott House. I knew he was an early enthusiast of miniature wargames - I have a copy of Little Wars - and I also have the two volume set of his compact Outline of History, which I sadly admit I have not read as yet.

What really surprised me was the fact that after writing the Time Machine in 1895, Wells came to Sandgate in 1896 for the benefit of his health. Enjoying the life there, he commissioned C.F.A. Voysey to build a house in a commanding position overlooking the sea; so it follows that Wells is standing in the doorway of what clearly appears to be a Voysey house. This home (above) known as Spade House, became one of the literary centers of the world in Edwardian times. While living at Spade House, Wells wrote books such as Kipps, Tono-Bungay and Ann Veronica.

One interesting side note - it may be remembered that Voysey usually placed a signature heart motif on the door of every home he designed, but Wells reportedly did not want a heart, so the heart was replaced by a spade motif - thus the name. The house is now utilized as a nursing home.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taylor Swift an Elizabethan Lady at Madison Square Garden

Okay, so I am not a big Taylor Swift fan -- she's a nice kid, but that kind of pop music's just not my thing. That said, TLG couldn't help but notice the nice outfits she's wearing during her 52-date Fearless tour — which launched in April and wraps in October. Rolling Stone has a full review and some nice photos, including this one of Taylor decked out in some sharp Elizabethan finery.

PHOTO CREDIT: Rolling Stone Online.

As Rolling Stone reports - "for the third act, which kicks off with “Love Story,” dancers dressed in Elizabethan costumes glide across the stage while Swift, wearing a red-and-gold cloak, sings the modern-day Romeo-and-Juliet tale." Seems appropriate. The full story is HERE.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tudor Lion Statues Come Home to Hampton Court Palace

As noted in this interesting Telegraph article we came across, returning two handsome stone beasts to pride of place at Hampton Court Palace seems a fitting way to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession in 2009. After sitting in a pub for who-knows-how-long, they were removed in the 1980's during a demolition job, where they were stored in a home until being taken by the owner to a campground in France.

Historians and antiquarians were aware of the statues' existance, and it was discovered that the the lions would have been known as "kyng's beestes" - heraldic animals that once been sprinkled generously around royal residences. Additionally, the pub where they had been originally rescued was on a direct path between two Tudor royal palaces - Hampton Court and the legendary Nonsuch Palace - so the theory that they might well have graced one of the royal palaces seemed to fit.

PHOTO CREDIT: www.telegraph.co.uk.

To celebrate Henry's 500th anniversary year, a new garden in Tudor style was commissioned from historian and garden designer Todd Longstaffe-Gowan. His design for what is now known as the Chapel Court Tudor Garden included a number of hand-carved and painted heraldic beasts standing post among the flowerbeds - traditional ornamentation that would have been familiar in Tudor times. Longstaffe-Gowan was thrilled to have the beasts returned to England as part of the display. He says historians "are agreed that these are early 16th century carving, undoubtedly royal, from which palace we don't know. They're made from Taynton stone - from Oxfordshire - which is very hard and was commonly used by all Henry VIII's stonemasons. They may have been polychromed originally."

To read the entire article and see more photos, go HERE.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This Tudor Rocks: Allman Brother's "Big House" to Open as a Museum

Many people might think that a Tudor house museum would be a quiet place, filled with tapestries and the echoes of madrigals in the air. Well, this is one Tudor Revival house that's seen some rock and roll...the place where the Allman Brothers Band founded their "Southern Rock" sound, the place where the song "Ramblin' Man" was penned and the last place Duane Allman visited before dying in a motorcycle crash in 1971.

PHOTO CREDIT: wrensnestonline.com.

The Big House in Macon, Georgia - home of the band lived when its fame took off back in the early 1970s, has been a spot where music lovers flocked during pilgrimages over the last few decades. Now, the three-story Tudor Revival house where the band got its start is set to become a museum with the help of many dedicated fans who have spent years collecting memorabilia and renovating the building.

The 6,000-square-foot house, which was built in the early 1900s, became the band's home in 1970 after bassist Berry Oakley and his wife, Linda, rented it for the musicians and their families. They called it the "Big House" because it was far larger than any other place they had ever lived before.

The museum is scheduled to open in December with a fanfare that is expected to draw thousands of rock fans from across the globe to Macon to honor the band. "It was never meant to be just a house with a number of things hanging on the walls but to be active in promoting music in the community," said Kirsten West, the managing director of the Big House Foundation. "For now, renovations are going, but a big sign in the front yard declares what it will be: "Allman Brothers Band Museum." To read more, go HERE.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Tudor House that Twitters

Dr Andy Stanford-Clark has fitted his grade 1 listed Tudor cottage with hundreds of sensors, allowing everything from energy usage to the burglar alarm to be relayed by the the internet messaging service Twitter. The result? Now the rustic and charming cottage has been converted into one of the most hi-tech homes in the world.

PHOTO CREDIT: www.telegraph.co.uk.

Now the house can tell its owner when his dinner is ready, if someone is at the door or when a mouse has been caught in a trap. If he leaves a light on or a water tap running, the house will automatically tweet him - instantly alerting the 43-year old engineer and master inventor for computer firm IBM. Dr Stanford-Clark started renovating the house five years ago, installing sensors to monitor power usage, but later realized the potential that Twitter had to offer.

Stanford-Clark explains that he is interested in how how objects could be connected to the internet - especially "tweetjects" - objects that Twitter. Not surprisingly, the house can also be controlled over a mobile phone, allowing him to switch on appliances in the cottage when he is out of the house. “It's a bit of a showcase for the technology,” he said.

Happily, the high-tech system makes use of wireless sensors wherever possible because the cottage is a listed building. To read the entire article, go HERE.