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The wallpaper is `flocked' and gives an effect of cut velvet, the idea being to imitate material. Such papers were manufactured in considerable quantity a few years later for the French market and were called 'Papier d'Angleterre'.
The process used for their manufacture was simple. The design was painted or stencilled in varnish, glue or some such tacky substance, then finely clipped wool was sprinkled onto this tacky surface and blown to remove the surplus `flock'. In the early examples the flock surface was hand-painted after it had dried on to its background-in the later examples the flock was dyed before it was applied. In either case the effect obtained closely resembled velvet.
An interesting detail of this room is that of the arrangement whereby the door can be opened from the bed, the cord that performs this function can be seen in the illustration, running up to the cornice from the bed-head. The original lock is still working on the eight-panelled door.
Here we have a perfect example of the dignified use of wallpaper, for it has been treated in much the same manner as tapestry or fine damask. We find many rooms of this period where the panelling has been made to fit and frame the family tapestries, though in such cases the rooms would naturally be considerably larger and more important than the example shown here.
Another flocked wallpaper of much the same period (1732) and again treated in a similar manner is that at Christchurch mansion at Ipswich. The design is more complicated and considerably bolder, for it papers the walls of a State Bedroom and would therefore seem to be the best that the artists of the day could produce. It will be seen the design is so large that it took one and a half sheets to repeat. The quality of the design dwarfs to a certain extent the fine carving of the overmantel which in itself is an excellent example of the designs for chimney-pieces attributed to Gibbs. The plain marble fire-place and the short wainscot panels give a balance to the room which might otherwise appear over-decorated.
Such fireplaces were rare at this time, especially in the most up-to-date rooms because of the far-felt effects of the published drawings of Inigo Jones (1727) and James Gibbs (1728). These drawings gave measured details of classic ornament as applied to doors, windows, fireplaces and chimney-pieces and within a very few years of this classic revival hundreds of rooms were re-decorated with the stuccoed embellishments of Palladian architecture.
CHRISTCHURCH MANSION, IPSWITCH