Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cragside, UK Part III--The Ground Floor of the House

Cragside was the pet project of William George Armstrong (1810-1900), a British industrialist and scientist who focused on practical applications for water power. He built the house with many conveniences we take for granted: electric lights, hot and cold water, elevators, telephone systems. Everything was powered by water. He had made several lakes on the estate and used the water to power the house. One person said that it was "the Palace of a Modern Magician." Our children (and we adults too) were amazed to see all the conveniences built into the home.

Approaching the house

A little bit of water right next to the house!

Medieval-ish archway

Courtyard inside

The first stop on the tour of the house is the kitchen. The room has many conveniences that must have delighted the servants. The oven had spits that turned automatically; a dumb waiter brought supplies up and down from the scullery below; even an early dish washer was in use!

Oven/range with automated spits

Kitchen table with dumb waiter in the back

First generation dishwasher

The scullery has all the pots and pans and such. Also, a display explains the hydraulic lift that was used by the servants, not the guests. The lift was meant to be practical, not ornamental. Delivering coal or meals or laundry to the upstairs rooms was very easy at Cragside.


Explanation of the hydraulic lift

Model of the elevator (J pushed the button here a lot)

The butler had his own pantry where some of the finer items were kept in storage. He also would coordinate activities in the household from his other room on the other side of the kitchen.

Butler's pantry

Butler's room (no they didn't have TVs in the late 1800s--nothing to watch!)

The next room (and a natural neighbor to the kitchen) is the dining room. The fireplace here is quite impressive. It has its own nook with benches for people to warm themselves from the cold along with stained glass windows by William Morris representing the four seasons.

Dining room


L and J enjoying a little warming

Next to the dining room is the library, which was originally used as a drawing room and still has a more informal, not very bookish feel. Interestingly, when the estate was taken over by the National Trust, some of the books found in the house were labeled "Servants Room," which meant that servants were encouraged to read in their off time. Also, this room was the first to have electricity, including Joseph Swan's filament light bulbs.

The library

A staircase just outside the library leads down into the Turkish Baths. Another modern convenience powered hydroelectrically, Lord Armstrong included this in his house for several reasons. It provides a way to heat the rest of the house with the air being ducted through the walls above. Also, any foreign ministers (including several Asian ministers) who might facilitate business contracts would be more amenable if they were more comfortable even during the bleak Northumbrian winter.

Steam room

Cold plunge?

Hot bath

Fezzes are cool (just like bow ties)

The ploy must have worked, for the room at the top of the stairs is the Japanese Room. It displays various gifts and mementos given to Armstrong by various Japanese families.

Japanese Room

Nearby tiles that I thought were cool

As this post is getting long, we'll save the upstairs for tomorrow!

No comments:

Post a Comment