John Pye Auctions Weekly Story – ‘Chatsworth House’

During the 1940s war period, Sir William once took the boys to Chatsworth House, which he had never even heard of before. John found it to be packed with scores of young girls and thought it must be a school. Only later he learned that the building – bereft of the many treasures it boasts today – was being used to house girl evacuees, particularly from the bombing in Coventry.

Sir William was always keen to explain to the boys detailed points about furniture, paintings and other finery on such visits.

‘He would point to a painting,’ said John, ‘telling us how it was painted and by whom. We discovered where a work had been done in bitumen, pastels, or the leaves sponged up, the colours and the type of painting; whether a still life or landscape with forests, lakes or portraits. He would explain all about the artists and I always said to myself ‘who wants to know?’

‘Then he would summon us over to admire furniture, calling us both to view a chair, for instance, and, explaining it might be from 1780, done by that famous craftsman Chippendale. He went on and on, showing us a table with its brass forefeet or chiselling or porcelain. We had this until I was 14.’


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