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 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

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

In 1948, an uncertain future for the family lay ahead with the sale of Croome Court and its collection looming. Many of the contents of Croome Court were sold at an auction, and others were acquired by museums in the UK and America, when the Coventry family after they were forced to sell their ancestral home.  The remainder of the collection, only a fifth of the original contents of the house returned during late 2016 and early 2017.

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

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 imagination.  Over 2.5 metres high, the piece is an innovative way of presenting these beautifully crafted items without erecting barriers.  The additional seven chairs from the set will be displayed later in the year when the rest of the remaining collection returns.

" 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'

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

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