Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891

Lettres

Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

Wedding Plans

Penned upon the 6th of May, 2008

We’re planning a wedding! We’re planning our wedding. I’ll spare you the grisly details of catering plans and decorative flans, such as we’ve been inflicting on our families – but I will take the opportunity to babble on about our proposed venue!

In fact, I’ve mentioned it before – Villa Alba, a Victorian house I learned about in my continuing study of its decorators, the Paterson family. The house is now the Villa Alba Museum, and open once a month for visitors, so this week I was finally able to peek inside.

I’m going to say, without the slightest exaggeration, that it was even more beautiful than I thought. The interiors are entirely painted and stencilled, rather than wallpapered – and many rooms are decorated with murals rather than plain or even patterned designs. Between the house being vacated by its original owners in the depression of the 1890s and recent decades, many walls were painted over and the house gradually fell into disrepair, but continuing restoration has righted the structural damage and is gradually uncovering the designs below the paintwork.

I think my favourite area is the drawing room – the walls are a particular amazing deep grey, like a forest seen through mist, and the mantle is one of the original pieces of furniture. The boudoir upstairs is very special too: painted as a Moroccan palace, it was evidently originally furnished with English, Japanese, Moorish and Indian pieces. Gorgeous. One small section of the original wall design which has been uncovered reveals a sacred ibis, peering as if from a portal into the Ideal world. To think that we’ll be able to see more and more of the house as the museum continues its painstaking work. That really is something to look forward to – not a bad metaphor for marriage, really. Except that marriage rarely requires the use of solvents in bulk.

As far as I can tell, the Villa must be the grandest and best-preserved example of Aesthetic design in the country. Alas, unlike my tour of Labassa and Rippon Lea, I wasn’t really there to take photos, but you can see it for yourself on the first Sunday of the month… and hopefully there’ll be wedding photos to show before a year is out!


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Commentary upon “Wedding Plans”

  1. Meaghan was heard to remark,

    Upon the 14th of May, 2008 at 1:15 pm,

    As you know, I love a good historic property, so I thank you very much for the tip-off. I will definitely plan a visit during the break and maybe take my beloved along for some sketching.

    Needless to say, if you had the wedding here, it would be incredible in the pictures. Very romantic too, if the pictures are anything to go off.

    Fingers crossed it can happen!


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