Enter through the entrance hall with its wonderful collection of china and you will reach the spectacular central hall, filled with colour and decoration. The original open courtyard was roofed over in the 1850s and the Pre-Raphaelite artist William Bell Scott created eight large wall paintings capturing 2,000 years of local history. The paintings deserve a close inspection – Scott has packed each one with recognisable people and events all in jewel-bright colours.
By way of contrast, the kitchen gives you a taste of life ‘below stairs’. The dresser and tables of scrubbed pine have seen many years of service, as have many of the utensils around the room. The coal-fired stove used for cooking food and heating water had to be cleaned out and relit every morning by the scullery maid – imagine the back-breaking work!
The doll’s house room is a favourite with generations of visitors – the oldest house dates to 1835, while the Hammond House has 36 rooms, each lit by electricity. This room also showcases 3,000 lead soldiers played with by the Trevelyan brothers.
From the 1880s, the Parlour was used as a sitting room and you can still see the original William Morris wallpaper as well as paintings by Turner, Ruskin and Burne-Jones.
The library, drawing room and dining room have beautiful plasterwork decoration by Pietro Lafranchini. In the drawing room, look out for the three-dimensional floral garlands, vegetation and shells.
As you move from the ground floor to the first, stop and admire the Swiss ‘dragon sleigh’ dating back to the 1600s and John Wooten’s Dancing Dogs painted in 1759.
The nursery displays a range of toys played with by generations of children including a horse tricycle, china-faced dolls and teddy bears.
The Blackett Bedroom owes its name to the bed, made about 1765 which belonged to Sir Walter Calverley Blackett. Along the corridor is the Needlework Room – ten panels by Julie, Lady Calverley were influenced by oriental textiles and show exotic birds and plants all in brightly coloured wools and silks.
Finally, don’t miss the Cabinet of Curiosities on the top floor. From fossils to a porcupine fish, Egyptian figures, narwhal tusks and kangaroo paws, the room is full of weird and wonderful curiosities collected by Lady Jane Wilson.