It was a delight to meet up with the Attingham Summer School again, this time at Moggerhanger House, designed by Soane in two phases, 1790-1793 and 1806-1812. The weather was fine, and the house, one of Soane’s masterpieces, glowed in the sunshine like a villa in the Mediterranean, and the scholars, curators from America, Europe and elsewhere, populated the rooms with enthusiasm, enjoying the long axis, and carefully judged neo-classical decoration, as well as the story of the £7 million restoration.
As a trustee for some years, I have been helping with a slow but steady improvement in the fittings and furnishings. Recently a neo-Soane mirror designed by George Carter has been installed in the drawing room, which transforms the light of the space. Some pictures bought in the Albert Richardson sale have also been hung to great effect. The recent gift of a series of Thornton family pictures, largely engraved, have also been recently hung and help give a connection to the patron family.
When we have a large interested tour group such as this, I really feel how well the house was designed and built for the reception of company and seems to come alive when full of people. Helen Dorey of the Sir John Soane’s Museum, gave an excellent lecture – on the career and interests of Soane. The lecture was given in the columned dining room – with coffee and tea. I enjoyed giving the group a whistle stop tour of house and gardens, supported by our house guides and new head gardener, and then back to the house for a dinner in the double drawing room, all beautifully laid up and set out by the Moggerhanger team, after which the Countess of Erroll, chairman of trustees spoke of the long campaign of restoration and recovery.