Please Sit at Fenton House

This autumn you are invited to sit down, linger longer and look anew at Fenton House, its remarkable contents and the worlds they came from. Commissioned by the National Trust, guest host Gitta Gschwendtner has invited five fellow designers to join her in creating seating in the rooms and garden at Fenton House. 12 September 2019 – 4 May 2020.

Gitta Gschwendtner, Michael Marriott, Maisie Broadhead, Nina Tolstrup, Frith Kerr and Carl Clerkin have all selected and responded to a particular detail in their chosen room.  Whether a feature of its interior or the artefacts it contains, their interpretation of it is in the form of an item of seating.

'Chinese Chair' by Michael Marriott, part of Please Sit at Fenton House
Chinese Chair installation at Fenton House by Michael Marriott as part of Please Sit
'Chinese Chair' by Michael Marriott, part of Please Sit at Fenton House

From Michael’s ‘blinkered’ chair, focussing our eyes and minds on Chinese snuff bottles, to Frith’s playful comment on Lady Binning’s collectable ceramic poodles, these unexpected eruptions of contemporary design encourage a deeper level of engagement with Fenton’s collections, heritage and place.

" Fenton is unique and fascinating as it does not present a neatly packaged narrative of ownership and collection. I would like to invite people to dwell and to wonder"
- Gitta Gschwendtner
Gitta Gschwendtner designed 'Jacob's Chair' as a response to the embroidery of 'Jacob's Dream, which can be seen in the Rockingham Room at Fenton House
Designer Gitta Gschwendtner sits in one of the chairs she designed as part of Please Sit at Fenton House
Gitta Gschwendtner designed 'Jacob's Chair' as a response to the embroidery of 'Jacob's Dream, which can be seen in the Rockingham Room at Fenton House

A place of changes

Fenton House is home to outstanding works of art and collector’s items, as well as more commonplace, whimsical and playful objects.  The core of the collection was formed by a bequest to the National Trust by the last of Fenton's 22 owners and renters, Lady Katherine Binning (1871-1952). Lady Binning left the house to the Trust as a ‘museum’ and since that time many other collections have been added. Now the house is brimming with disparate collections of extraordinary things.

Good Taste is a Waste or Everyone Loves Poodles by Frith Kerras part of Please Sit at Fenton House
Bed installation at Fenton House by Frith Kerr as part of Please Sit
Good Taste is a Waste or Everyone Loves Poodles by Frith Kerras part of Please Sit at Fenton House

Commissioned by the National Trust, now Fenton’s longest occupant, a radical redecoration of the house was undertaken by John Fowler of Colefax and Fowler in the 1970s. The scheme and furniture arrangement give a relaxed, country house feel and add yet another layer to Fenton’s story.

Take a seat in the garden on 'Jacob's Bench' by Gitta Gschwendtner as part of Please Sit at Fenton House
Chairs in the garden at Fenton House by Gitta Gschwendtner as part of Please Sit
Take a seat in the garden on 'Jacob's Bench' by Gitta Gschwendtner as part of Please Sit at Fenton House

Join our debate

Please Sit is part of a long term project to re-think the display at Fenton House and to reconnect people with the house and garden. We welcome your feedback so please sit, make yourself comfortable and join our debate. #PleaseSit

Please Sit runs from 12 September 2019 – 4 May 2020, opening times vary, please click here for details. See What’s On for more information on our programme of Please Sit events.

Designer Gitta Gschwendtner sits in one of the chairs she designed as part of Please Sit at Fenton House

Meet the designers behind Please Sit at Fenton House 

Join Gitta Gschwendtner, Nina Tolstrup, Michael Marriott and Carl Clerkin in conversation as they discuss their seating designs and perspectives for Please Sit at Fenton House. You'll also have a chance to explore the house and garden in the evening light over a glass of wine. Wednesday 27 November, 6pm. Booking required.