As you go around the house you may notice two beautiful Oriental cabinets. If you’ve been on a tour, it’s likely the guides have told you that although they look similar, they are in fact vastly different in age and origin.
The first that appears on the tour is a Chinese style green lacquer cabinet which is actually of English manufacture from the 19th century, as well as the English Rococo stand it sits on. Later on during the tour, you will also see a black lacquer cabinet of a similar style. This however is much older, and the sort of piece English manufacturers were inspired by when the green cabinet was created. This black cabinet is actually a Japanese export dated to approximately 1680 that was collected by Mrs Bruce Ward. Cabinets like this can take up to 90 layers of lacquer to create, while the later English cabinet will only have a few layers on top of a wooden base.
Unfortunately both stands are showing their age and are being looked at for conservation, as sections of the gilding are flaking away and revealing their wooden cores. As the solid wood carcase dries up and shrinks the surface gilding becomes too big. Additionally, the gesso (the smooth white underlayers applied directly to the porous and uneven wood surface prior to gilding) is also drying out and losing its flexibility. This prevents it from adhering to the wood, and is what therefore causes the gilding to flake away.
We kindly ask that visitors do not touch the collection as they tour the house, but please do enjoy a close look.