Monday, November 19, 2012


Pickford's House, Derby, built in 1769-70 by architect Joseph Pickford as his family home and workplace, recreates the rooms as they might have been when the Pickfords lived there.
Museum since 1988, the house also contains a collection of costumes and part of the Frank Bradley wonderful collection of toy theaters.
Joseph Pickford's architectural projects included St. Helen's House, Derby, "one of the finest surviving provincial Georgian town houses" and a factory and hall for Josiah Wedgwood. The house passed out of the family's hands in 1844 with the death of Pickford's youngest son.
The ground floor reception rooms were designed to impress Pickford's clients, while the family living areas were plainer. The Entrance Hall plasterwork with neo-classical motifs on the walls and ceiling is original, and the frieze above the front door shows groups of architectural drawing instruments, symbols of Pickford's trade.
Displayed as it might have looked between 1825-30, the Morning Room was possibly Pickford's original office. It was remodeled into a parlor about 1812 by his son and used for informal dining, musical activities, writing letters and reading. The room now includes a fireplace and Regency-period woodwork. A copy of a painting from 1777-9 by Pickford's artist friend, Joseph Wright, showing Pickford's two sons with their dog, hangs over the mantelpiece.
The cozy Drawing Room with its blue patterned wallpaper (reproduced from a paper of about 1790) was used for entertaining visitors before and after dinner. Playing cards, looking at books and drawings, and evening tea parties took place here.
The Dining Room was the grandest of the three reception rooms and is now shown as one in about 1800. A white Carrara and pencil-veined Sicilian marble fireplace, dating from about 1790, has replaced the original. The typical late eighteenth-century paint colors are based on paint scrapes taken from Pickford's House. Derby porcelain sits on the table, and the figure is dressed in a reproduction costume of the late 1780s. The carpet is a reproduction of a late eighteenth-century Brussels carpet. These were woven in narrow strips, usually 27 inches wide, which were cut to length and sewn together to fit the room. A green baize floorcloth beneath the table was used to protect the carpet (a tiny section is visible in the photo). The curtains are made from a reproduction of a wool fabric called moreen, which was often used for curtains and upholstery in the eighteenth century.
The Stairs are closed off from the public rooms, and the decor of this part of the house is plainer. Originally, these would have been the only stairs in the house, used by both the family and servants.
There were three Cellars in the early days: a dry cellar to store flour and other dry goods, a wine and beer cellar, and a 'wet' cellar to hang meat and game. Expensive items like tea, spices and beeswax candles were locked in the housekeeper's cupboard at the bottom of the stairs. The family who lived in the house during World War II used the largest cellar as an air raid shelter, which is equipped as such today.

The Kitchen wing was added sometime between 1812 and 1831. The open range is a modern copy. There is no oven, so bread, pies and cakes were probably sent to be cooked at a local bakehouse or were bought ready-made. Dishes ready to be served were placed on a white cloth at the end of the kitchen table to ensure any grease on the bottom of the dishes was not transferred onto the fine tablecloths in the dining room.

The Master Bedroom and dressing room next door have been recreated as they might have been around 1815. The bed is based on a 1797 design. Clothes were laid on sliding trays or put in drawers of the Mahogany wardrobe as there were no hanging compartments until the late nineteenth century.

The dressing, or toilet table, made of deal and covered with silk and muslin, is a reproduction of a type that had gone out of fashion by the late eighteenth century. The cast-iron fire grate and wooden surround are dated eighteenth century, and originally would have had an ornamental surround with niches on either side.
The bed in the Servants' bedroom is a reconstruction of a camp or field bed, common in female servants' bedrooms. Two servants would have shared a bed of this size. The curtains and bed canopy are of 'furniture check', a fabric used for curtains and hangings in less important rooms.
Here are some photos from the costume exhibition.
Figure wears a cotton print dress, cap and collar of about 1830
Front gown: cream silk with brocaded floral design, c. 1750.
Gown and matching petticoat behind is made of chine or clouded silk, 1770.

Left waistcoat with clear stones and sequins is from a court suit of about 1750.
The woven design on right is from 1825-1850s.
The cream silk gloves are from 1900.
Assortment of shoes and bags from 1700 to early 19th century.


Joanna Lloyd said...

I loved seeing these photos and reading the descriptions. What a great post...thanks Cheryl.

Allison Butler said...

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks for this fabulous post. What an amazing house/museum, full of wonderful and fascinating gems from the past.
I particularly love the Entrance Hall plasterwork - beautiful - and the cream silk with brocaded floral design gown - gorgeous:)

Cassandra Samuels said...

Fantastic post Cheryl. Makes me want to get on a plane right now.

Cheryl Leigh said...

Thanks Joanna, Allison and Cassandra. It's a small house, but full of interesting items.

Annie West said...

Cheryl, this looks stunning! You must have had the most marvellous time visiting there. one of the research perks of writing historicals? Thanks so much for sharing. My hero has just inherited an old house in England, and I'm getting inspiration from these pictures.

Cheryl Leigh said...

Hi Annie, thanks for dropping by!

Yes, the research perks are such fun and one of the best things about writing historicals. :)

I'm glad my post is giving you some inspiration. ;)

Maggi Andersen said...

Fabulous Cheryl. I'd love to visit this some time. Such a comprehensive collection and a real insight into the era.

Cheryl Leigh said...

Maggi, Pickford's House was such a pleasant surprise. There are no crowds to fight either, so you can stroll leisurely through the rooms. Hope you get the chance to visit one day. :)

Marianne Theresa said...

Great post Cheryl,
I am putting on my list of places to visit IF/when next visit to UK.
Need 6mths at this rate LOL Mary

Cheryl Leigh said...

Marianne, there's so much to see in the UK, isn't there? And never enough time!

Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

Suzi said...

I've just added this as another 'Must See' place. Loved the information and the photos.
Suzi Love

Cathleen Ross said...

You'll be interested to know that I have a pair of the shoes in the picture. I saw then in a museum in the States too.
Great post.

Deborah Challinor said...

Fascinating post, and lovely website!

Cheryl Leigh said...

Suzi, you would love Pickford's House! It's a lovely museum to wander about and not busy with crowds.

Cheryl Leigh said...

Thanks for dropping in, Deborah. Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

Cheryl Leigh said...

Cathleen, really?? Which ones? How fabulous!!

LOL, I'm not surprised as I know your love of shoes. ;)