With a history that dates back to the eleventh century, Belvoir Castle is one of England’s most beautiful stately homes. It is the ancestral home of the Duke of Rutland, where the family have lived in an unbroken line for over 500 years. Perched on a hill in bucolic countryside, the castle is renowned for its exquisite collection of antique Chinese wallpapers dating back to the late 1700s. As part of an extensive renovation, the Duchess of Rutland commissioned de Gournay to faithfully recreate the wallpaper in the Wellington Room were the Duke of Wellington stayed in the 1850s. The project also included interior design by Sibyl Colfax & John Fowler, along with garden restoration based on the original landscaping plans drawn up by the renowned Capability Brown in 1780.
This hand painted wallpaper is unique for its vivid coloration – rich berry tones set off against a wonderful pistachio green ground – and its opulent design: a verdant garden scene of exotic birds and peony flowers in full bloom. It was recreated using de Gournay’s meticulous production methods, which have remained essentially unchanged since the hand painting of this original wallpaper. This recreation has now become part of de Gournay’s permanent collection of historically inspired Chinoiserie wallpapers.
A project of such specialist character called upon the skills of multiple other brands, each an authority in their field of product. Collier Webb leant their metalworking talents to picture rails and chains cast especially for the rooms, while George Spencer and Heritage Trimmings provided textile elements for the embellishment of the resident bed – a magnificent four poster, refashioned in keeping with the transformation of the room. Meanwhile, Colefax & Fowler was the obvious source for the remaining fabrics, with Burns and Hooper delving into the companies extensive collections for the additional upholstery, soft furnishings and drapery.
The combined strengths of de Gournay’s technical expertise and the castle’s fascinating heritage has resulted in a unique and striking revival of one of Europe’s greatest decorative legacies, a masterful showcase to be admired by future generations just as the 18th century examples are revered today.
For additional inspiration from de Gournay, we recommend their lovely book, de Gournay: Hand-Painted Interiors. It would make a wonderful holiday gift, and make sure to check out our Annual Christmas with the Tastemakers Gift Guide to complete your shopping!