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Nostell Priory: Interior worlds: Thomas Chippendale

by Simon McCormack*

To celebrate 300 years since the birth of the influential designer Thomas Chippendale, Nostell invites visitors to step into the world of interiors he created for the treasure house and discover the man behind the famous brand. Through a new exhibition, an immersive experience in the staterooms and contemporary art collaboration, visitors can explore a world of fashion, luxury, innovation and the rollercoaster life of a top-end designer.


The Chippendale collection at Nostell is of world-class significance. The “Shakespeare of furniture” supplied over 100 items for the Winn family, many of which are documented within a unique archive of Chippendale’s letters, invoices and drawings, revealing an insight into the man himself, the inner workings of the Chippendale firm and the client-supplier relationship.


Now open to visitors, our new exhibition “The Man and the Brand” unravels the story of Thomas Chippendale, his special connection to Nostell and the legacy he left behind. Visitors can see his correspondence on display alongside key collection pieces and tools, showcasing the range of objects and services he supplied. A new series of creative workshops entitled Dovetail, Biscuit, Splat offers families the chance to make their own masterpieces inspired by Chippendale.


Chippendale created a one-stop-shop for his 18th century clients – from fixing jammed doors to creating grand showrooms in the latest fashions. The new exhibition sets this scene for visitors, before they explore Nostell’s magnificent first floor rooms. On Friday 13 July the property will launch “Interior Worlds” in the first floor staterooms. Visitors will unravel the secrets of individual items that Chippendale designed, created and supplied for Nostell’s grand spaces, through new ways of storytelling and interpretation. By shining a light on this world-class collection like never before, visitors will explore the vibrant 18th century world of ruthless social ambition, dynamic entrepreneurship and global trade.


Inspired by the marbled paper that Chippendale sourced to line drawers and historic book covers, artist Giles Round will create and install “Obelisk Marbling”, a company producing marbled masterpieces using traditional techniques. This programme will continue until Sunday 4 November. It is part of “Chippendale 300”, a nationwide celebration, taking place in 2018 to mark the tercentenary of Thomas Chippendale’s birth in June 1718.


For more information, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nostell

Detail of a Thomas Chippendale at Nostell Priory and Parkland, West Yorkshire. The Georgian mansion was built on the site of a medieval priory.   ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey
Detail of a Thomas Chippendale at Nostell Priory and Parkland, West Yorkshire. The Georgian mansion was built on the site of a medieval priory. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

* Simon McCormack, Curator, is the YANT guest speaker on Saturday 17th November at 2.30pm in The Friends Meeting House, York.