The Garden Room at Basildon Park
On the ground floor at Basildon Park there is a hidden gem. There is more to this room than meets the eye and it's waiting to be explored.
John Carr of York
John Carr designed Basildon Park for Sir Francis Sykes in 1775 and the building was finished by 1784, although it took several more years to furnish it.
Carr was heavily influenced by the revival of the Classical style and Palladianism, which took its inspiration from the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. One principle of this style was the creation of geometrically shaped rooms, something that Carr used at Basildon Park.
On the East Front a distinctive bay in the middle of the house conceals an octagonal room across all three floors. In John Carr’s original plans, the second floor Octagon Bedroom sits above the Octagon Drawing Room on the first floor with a final octagonal Breakfast Room on the ground floor leading straight out onto the terraced lawn.
The Garden Room
Carr’s summer Breakfast Room had been converted into a billiard room in the 19th century and is today the Garden Room at Basildon Park. This hidden gem is a cool space for quiet reflection, with views out over the parkland where cattle graze among the historic tree clumps.
The panoramic wallpaper in this room is made by the French firm Zuber, who have been hand-printing decorative wallpapers since 1797 and are still making them using traditional techniques that have changed very little in the last 250 years.
Background colours are painted on with a brush by hand. After these have dried wooden blocks are used to add the details of landscape, buildings and figures one colour at a time, layer by layer, each one needing to be left to dry before the next is applied.
This particular design is called ‘L’Hindoustan’ and was chosen for the Garden Room because of Francis Sykes many years of service with the East India Company. Pierre Mongin who created he design had never been to India, he based his imaginary landscape on a series of 144 prints called ‘Oriental Scenery’ published in the late 18th century. Four of these prints are on display in the Bamboo Bedroom at Basildon Park.
Two complete sets of the panorama are hung in the Garden Room, created using 85 colours applied with 1, 265 wooden blocks.
Watch the video below of this painstaking and delicate work.