Eltham Palace – Reception Room
Hello and welcome to my personal space and ONE NINE EIGHT FIVE’s first ever blog post! I am Eleanor Nadimi, the founder of ONE NINE EIGHT FIVE and this is a place where I will be sharing things I love and I hope you love them too!
This post is all about an amazing visit I had to Eltham Palace in Greenwich, London. My sister brought me here a few weeks ago and I was absolutely blown away with how fantastic it was. My mum used to bring us for days out to English Heritage homes when I was a kid, so I have seen a lot, but this one completely stood out. There is so much I want to share about how fabulous this place is that I am going to have to split this up into several posts to be able to share its true beauty with you, it would be crime to skim over some of the details.
I am going to start off this series of posts with the gorgeous reception room created by Swedish designer Rolf Engströmer but first a tiny bit of history… Eltham Palace has a long history but my focus is on the 1930s when Stephen and Virginia Courtauld moved in. Even though the couple only lived here for 11 years what they achieved was incredible. The first thing they did was to commission architects John Seely & Paul Paget to build them a new home on the site. The brief was to create a modern home as an extension to the Great Hall which would serve as their main living quarters, perfect for entertaining and displaying their extensive art collections whilst being sympathetic to the original part of the building. The Great Hall was to be used exclusively for all of the parties they wanted to host, these were an extremely social pair!
Now back to the reception room. Where to start?! The room served as the pivot to the two wings of the house, as soon as I walked in I was struck by the shape of the space and the light flooding in from a large circular glass dome in the center of the ceiling. Underneath the dome sat a 6 meter wide graphic rug designed by Marion Dorn, the original is at the London Victoria and Albert museum, a blog post all about Dorn will definitely be written soon. The graphics and colour blocking on the rug is so cleverly done, Dorn used a triangle composition of graphic lines and circles to give a lovely flow to the room and the furniture placed around it. The colours on the rug complement the orange/brown tone of the walls perfectly which are completely covered in walnut.
In some areas on the walls there are intricately decorated scenes of marquetry panels displaying a Roman soldier and a Viking, landscape scenes and images of buildings in Florence, Venice and Stockholm. This was done by Swedish artist Jerk Werkmäster, the amount of texture Werkmäster captured is overwhelming. Each inlaid piece of wood brings a new textured pattern and colour way to the space. I’ve seen a lot of marquetry examples but the scale and complex design of this is beyond anything I have ever seen before.
What makes this house so overwhelming is the eclectic taste of Stephen and Virginia, they clearly appreciated décor from multiple cultures and eras and the way they put together their treasures in a space is so well executed. I absolutely love to see people surround themselves with lots of different cultures, picking and choosing what they like because they love it and not to fit into a stereotype and that’s why for me they are so significant not just for their time but for the present day too.