Thursday, April 14, 2016

John Fowler's Nantclwyd Hall Revisited

Yesterday, I featured the exquisite United Kingdom homes of Serena Fresson and her daughter Alice Naylor-Leyland. My obsession continues as Alice and her husband Tom were just featured in Vogue for a weekend jaunt they held recently at Tom's family home, Nantclwyd Hall in Denbighshire, Wales... complete with home tour! The 17th-century mansion has been in Tom’s family for generations. The interiors were decorated by John Folwer in the 1950s and remain untouched. Known as the "Prince of Decorators," John Fowler was the most influential interior decorator of his generation.  As Vogue explains...

The original house, built in 1622, was owned by the Thelwell family and was later purchased by the Naylor-Leyland clan in the mid-19th century. They enlarged it with Victorian extensions, leaving only the original oak sitting room and bedroom untouched, and they also kept the name: Nantclwyd, which means “the brook over the river Clwyd.” During the 1950s, Tom’s grandfather commissioned the famous Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis to remove the Victorian extensions from the original 17th-century home and add a subtly pink-hued facade facing the garden front, as well as a new clock tower, garden pagodas, and a fiberglass temple.

The interiors received a refresh as well when Tom’s father enlisted interior designer John Fowler to update the estate. Fowler famously lent his talents to Buckingham Palace and is often credited with inventing the humbly elegant decor that is now commonly associated with traditional English country homes: a reverence for the past mixed with a thoughtful use of color and jaunty patterns. Today, Fowler’s ingenious style is everywhere at Nantclwyd Hall—the floral fabric wall coverings, the pink Victorian seating, and the classic canopy beds. 

Let's take a tour of Nantclwyd Hall! Photography by Jooney Woodward.

The driveway to Nantclwyd Hall, which became the countryseat of the Naylor-Leyland baronets. As the story goes, the first lawn tennis match was played on its grounds, establishing the rules of today's modern game. 

The hall near the front entrance to the home is adorned with a trompe l'oeil wall covering chosen by John Fowler, and a piano and original marble fireplace. 

The oak sitting room is situated just off the bar area and is a gathering place for the family after dinner while Tom plays the piano. Fowler used window fabrics from George Spencer in London, pink chairs with red tassel trim, and portraits of Tom's great-great-great grandparents. Tom's mother, Lady Isabella, purchased the cushions on the sofa from various antique shops throughout London. 

The fabric in Lady Isabella's tearoom is called "Roses and Leaves" and is believed to have come from Ramm, Son & Crocker. Artwork by Tom and his siblings from when they were children and taxidermy on top of the bookshelf accent the room. 

Staffordshire dogs on the bookshelf in Lady Isabella's tearoom. 

The dining room, set for dinner after a long day out on the hunt, features gilded mirrors and neutral drapery set against pale green, leaf-printed wallpaper. 

Monogrammed napkins for Alice and her guests during the hunt weekend. Alice had the same ones made for her wedding. 

The library is another post-dinner gathering place for the Naylor-Leyland family, located just off the dining room. 

Just off the library, a needlepoint pillow depicting a hunting scene. 

A view at the top of the stairs with two giant tapestries that once hung in the old Baronial Hall of the house but were moved in 1959. An original chandelier hangs in the center. 

Before the 1959 remodeling, the old house had extensively Neo-Jacobean interiors done in the 19th century with very dark paneling. The gargoyles that lead to the second floor attic space were on the posts of the old staircases.

At the top of the stairs in the second floor attic, there is a large case displaying a diplomatic corps uniform that once belonged to Sir Edward Naylor-Leyland 2nd Baronet. 

A guest bedroom called the Victoria room features a brass bed and pastel blue settee. Fowler incorporated the bedding fabric onto the Victorian chairs flanking the fireplace, above which hangs a portrait of Jeannie Chamberlain from Cleveland, Ohio, who was married to Sir Herbert Naylor-Leyland 1st Baronet. The portrait of the baby above the nightstand is Sir Edward "Edley" Naylor-Leyland. 

The wooden toilet, deep tub, and fabric walls inside the oak bathroom just off the Victoria room. The bright pink and floral walls match the bedding in the adjoining room. 

Alice and Tom believe this room, with its pink and crimson hue and medieval canopy bed, may be haunted! “There’s only a possibility it’s haunted. The house is so not scary, but if it was anywhere, people do find this room a bit spooky,” said Alice. 

A glass panel protects the original Fowler rose-printed wallpaper from splashing water in an upstairs bath. 

A feminine dressing table and framed posters that read "Praise the Lord for his goodness" and "Serve the Lord with gladness" complete this English country style lilac room. 

In the bay window bath, Fowler incorporated toile de Jouy wall fabric, probably from Colefax and Fowler, in the 1950s. 

You can read more about Nantclwyd in Vogue here. And below are a some highlights from Alice and Tom's "Great Gatsby meets Downton Abby" party, also featured in Vogue...

Alice and son Billy
While Nantclwyd (with its 20 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms) has famously hosted scores of guests who have passed through its expansive doors over the generations, it is first and foremost a gathering place for family and their nearest and dearest. “We used to spend our summer holidays here every year,” said Tom. “Exploring, swimming, shooting rabbits, and playing tennis.” It’s a tradition that he continues with his family and friends, visiting the property for the Easter and summer holidays, as well as for hunt parties in the winter.

Violet Manners brought her ponies, which were allowed to stay in the stables on the property.

Alice Manners and Violet Manners

Otis Ferry listens to Tom play classics on the piano. 

Aldred Drummond found this fabulous jacket in his wardrobe—a leftover from bygone days and perfectly in line with the ’20s theme. 

Tom Naylor-Leyland relaxes after the hunt.

 Alice and Tom's daughter Nancy. 

A charming view of a temple from the path that winds along a river and over a little bridge en route to Nantclwyd.


Click here to see more of this fabulous party in Vogue. And if you are interested in learning more about John Fowler (Colefax & Fowler) the inventor of English Country Chic, Vogue has rounded up their top 15 favorite Instagrams featuring Alice (@aliceinherpalace)... and yours truly (@theglampad)!!! You will also want to pick up a copy of John Fowler: Prince of Decorators by Martin Wood. It features an extensive feature of Nantclwyd... and you can also catch additional glimpses from Alice's Instagram account! Click here to read my earlier post about Alice Naylor-Leyland and her mother, Serena Fresson. I just adore classic British style! 

@aliceinherpalace via Vogue


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