Croome's collection returns with a twist

Artist Bouke De Vries entering 'The Golden Box'

Innovative, imaginative and creative…some of the words to describe the artistic approach taken to the display of the returning historic collection at Croome.

Historical objects from the 6th Earl of Coventry’s collection will be returning with some key pieces, absent from the house for over 70 years, being presented in unique ways.

Croome's aim to redefine the Country House for the 21st Century has seen some fantastic projects over the last few years such as Sole to Soul in the basement, contemporary art in the Long Gallery and Croome Encounters performances telling Croome's stories in new, innovative and surprising ways.

The Golden Box by Bouke de Vries at Croome
Visitors walking through 'The Golden Box'
The Golden Box by Bouke de Vries at Croome

The return of the collection of furniture, paintings and ceramics has provided a unique opportunity to work in collaboration with artists to highlight parts of the collection, revealing their exquisite beauty in creative ways and bringing their stories alive. 

Sugar bowl from the Sèvres déjeuner ‘du roi' service
servres sugar bowl
Sugar bowl from the Sèvres déjeuner ‘du roi' service

Read more about the sugar bowl in the National Trust collections website

After the 2nd World War, in 1948, an uncertain future for the Coventry family lay ahead, as the inevitable sale of Croome Court loomed. Much of the contents of the house had to be sold at auction; and subsequently other items were acquired by museums in the UK and America. However, about a fifth of the Collection was retained, including the smaller, most iconic pieces, in order to furnish the family's new, smaller, home - Earl's Croome Court. All these items were returned to their original home in 2017, on long term loan from the Croome Heritage Trust. 

Two artists were commissioned to create original works to present select pieces from the collection in ways that are thought-provoking and respond to Croome’s spirit of ‘expect the unexpected’.

Bouke de Vries’ ‘Golden Box’ and Will Datson’s ‘Chair Play’ installation give a new perspective on these fascinating objects and the Treasures of Croome gives an in depth look at some of the beautiful furniture.  Filmmaker, Drew Cox, has  created a new introductory film, providing a visual feast to accompany a specially commissioned poem that takes you through Croome’s fascinating history.

The entrance hall is the first room that you will encounter and it is here that three of the original eighteenth century hall chairs are displayed. 

Chair Play by Will Datson at Croome
Installation called 'Chair Play' by artist Will Datson
Chair Play by Will Datson at Croome

Unlike most historic houses, Croome has shifted away from traditional ways of exhibiting historic pieces to capture visitors interest and curiosity in objects like never before.  Artist Will Datson has created an eye-catching artistic installation - an entanglement  of chairs to capture the imagination.  Over 2.5 metres high, the piece is an innovative way of presenting these beautifully crafted items without erecting barriers.  The chairs are exhibited in the entrance hall of the Court.

" It was my task to display the original hall chairs in a new way. We all see chairs every day, and usually ignore them, so I’ve attempted to create something out-of-the-ordinary, dramatic and playful, that’s hard to ignore."
- Will Datson, artist

On entering the dining room, visitors are wowed by a giant reflective golden box….a ‘room within a room’.  

Artist Bouke De Vries entering 'The Golden Box'
Artist Bouke De Vries entering 'The Golden Box'
Artist Bouke De Vries entering 'The Golden Box'

The 2 metre high 'Golden Box' installation entices you to walk through the reflective cube whose interior is encrusted with exquisite pieces of Meissen, Worcester and Sevres porcelain from Croome’s very important collection.  Plates, terrines, vases and teapots adorn its walls and ceiling, allowing up close inspection in a highly unusual setting. 

" It’s wonderful to see the ceramics returning to the house. I am so pleased to have been given the opportunity to present the pieces in a contemporary interpretation to make people look at them in a different way."
- Bouke De Vries, artist

Taking pride of place in the centre of the atmospheric Lord’s Dressing Room are the ‘Treasures of Croome’.  Two beautifully crafted 18th century Adamesque commodes (taken from the French word ‘commode’ meaning chest of drawers) were made by famous cabinet makers Maynew & Ince.  A short video shows their interiors and how they were once used.

One of Croome's two beautifully crafted 18th-century commodes
18th century commodes
One of Croome's two beautifully crafted 18th-century commodes

Moving into the Billiard Room, you can be taken on a poetic journey introducing Croome and learning about the place’s beginnings to it’s modern day setting. 

Follow this link to discover more about Croome's collection