Monday, 19 May 2014

Basildon Park Shell Room

When I was going through some photos recently I realised that I had some pictures of the Shell Room at Basildon Park that I had not shared with you.
 
The Shell Room is an amazing room, but very difficult to photograph.  It is a very dark, and the cabinets that contain the shells are lit by artificial light which makes taking pictures rather tricky.  So this is just a very small flavour of what you can see if you actually visit.
 
How do we come to have a room full of shells in an 18th Century House you might well ask.  It is an interesting story.  Lord Illife's mother, Lady Charlotte Iliffe was a great collector of shells.  Lady Charlotte was quite a reserved lady, and when she travelled with her husband abroad on business rather than going to meetings or functions with him she preferred to spend time on the beach and engaging in what became her passion of collecting shells.
 
When Basildon Park was given to the National Trust the gift included Lady Charlotte's shell collection.  It turned out to be one of the largest and most importantly privately held shell collections in the country.  Because of this the National Trust felt that it really should be displayed and shared with the public.
 
The National Trust commissioned an artist called Gordon Davies to produce panels and cabinets to adorn the room that became the Shell Room in order that Lady Charlotte's collection could be displayed.
 
When I give guided tours I always tell visitors about the fact that Lady Charlotte was very well thought of in shell collecting circles and she was therefore invited to be come a member of various conchological societies.  Of course the main reason that I tell visitors this is because it took me so long to work out how to pronounce the word!
 
I wish that I had more photos to share this amazing story with you, but I hope that these few pictures will give you a flavour of what there is to see and I will keep on trying to get more photos on the sunnier days at the house! 
 
 


This is the bottom half of one of the cabinets showing one of the panels that Gordon Davies produced.




These amazing shells are carved oyster shells, they are amazingly detailed and beautifully made.





One of my favourite things in this room to point out to children - especially small boys! - are these bleeding tooth shells!


They also love the spiny oysters.

I hope that you enjoyed your visit to the Shell Room with me.

Amy

37 comments:

  1. Nearly posted the Mural from the Garden room today but it will be next week now. Did not get much of a look round the house when we visited as there were too many people with kids there, so we will go back on another day when it is quiet

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    1. During the week is quietest Bill, Monday and Tuesday are generally quietest (not Bank Holiday Monday obviously!). Hope you liked seeing the shells again in the meantime!

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  2. Wow, amazing...how on earth do you carve an oyster shell? I thought the photos were really good Amy. Have a great week.

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    1. Very carefully I would guess!! They are very large shells, about the size of tea plates so a lot of work to produce! xx

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  3. Fabulous, that's quite a collection. The cabinets look like works of art.

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  4. Those shell carvings are so intricate!

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  5. When you said 'shells' I certainly wasn't expecting such an amazing collection!
    Jane x

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  6. A shell room, Amy? Oh my gosh wow! I love, LOVED collecting shells by the shore when I was younger- taking some of the beach back to the city was my favourite! This kinda of collection is right up my street! Hazel x

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  7. Lovely photos Amy, and I think I would prefer walking along the beach collecting shells than sitting in boring meetings!

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  8. What a delightful collection! And yes, I can imagine, given the lighting, that those display cases are very hard to photograph effectively, so well done on shooting some great pics :)

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  9. That's quite some collection! I especially love the carved ones - it looks so intricate.
    Hope you are enjoying the sunshine. x

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  10. It's very interesting to have a shell room. I love the idea of it. The carved shells are so intricate! It must have been a very skilled craftsman who did them. The cabinet is really beautiful too. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. What a great collection of seashells. I love shells and have a few jars of them and some larger ones that don't fit in the jars. They are mostly ones given to me as I've not been on many beaches where the unique ones would be found. Thanks for sharing this collection.

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  12. I love shells, what a lovely collection, I think the spiny oysters are great and the bleeding tooth shells are like something out of a horror movie, thanks for sharing Amy. :)

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  13. What an amazing collection - I must put it on my to-see list!!
    There seems to be a problem with Typepad, so I can't blog, and I cant't use my frayed at the edge ID to comment - most annoying!!

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  14. What a wonderful collection, Amy - I bet different shells appeal to different visitors but the overall effect is amazing - thank you for showing us:)

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  15. Ahhhh, this looks so much fun! I would love to go there and I know my children would too. we always collect shells, but they are just the plain, boring type. They have never seen anything like this. My son would love the bleeding tooth shell although I don't think I would like to have any of those in our home! They look scary. Thanks for sharing, Amy, I enjoyed looking at these!

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  16. What amazing shapes and patterns - nature never fails to fascinate me. And the carved shells are so beautiful too - love the one with the deer. x

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  17. Oh I did enjoy this Amy, thank you. So many shapes and textures, glowing under the lights. Gorgeous. x

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  18. I was there a few weeks ago Amy and was really impressed with the Shell room too. It was stunning, as was the rest of the house. Lucky you working there.
    Patricia x

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    1. I remember now that you said you were hoping to visit. I hope that you liked it! You will know what I mean about it being an amazing room but hard to photograph! If you come back again let me know! xx

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  19. What an amazing collection. Those sea urchins are beautiful. It's wonderful to see all of the different shells together. My three boys would definitely love bleeding tooth shells! It makes me wish I could paint or draw. CJ xx

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  20. Looks a fascinating room, so many wonderful shells! The craved ones are incredibly intricate.
    I have never visited there, but it sounds well worth a trip.Thanks for sharing this Amy.
    Gill xx

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  21. We have NT passes and often go to Badildon Park with the children. Alas we rarely venture into the house though, but we did several years ago and I remember the shell room :)
    My friend has a pass too. I've never thought of it before, but there's nothing stopping us going in the week with no children! Why did I not think of this before lol
    Jillxo

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    1. Nothing to stop you and your friend visiting in the week for sure Jill! You could make an afternoon tea date of it! xx

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  22. I really appreciate seeing this Amy, thank you, it's such a wonderful collection and shown to its best advantage! Joy x

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  23. This is fascinating!!! First off I would just like to say that I LOVE her name! Lady Charlotte! I can just picture her combing the beach during that time period. And those shells! Ha...we thought we were shell collectors in our family! Boy did she find such exquisite shells! Some of them do not even look real! I am always happy when I hear that bits of history were preserved and in this case they have done such an outstanding job of that! Now if only I could make it over and you could give me a tour!!! Happy week Amy! Nicole xoxo

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  24. I used to collect shells and have a small collection so this post about Lady Iliffe's shell room is fascinating.The cabinets are beautiful and in such good condition. It must be difficult to dust them and this rare collection!












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  25. What a fabulous room, you really do work in a wonderful place. Pity it's so far away to visit though with a bit of planning it could be possible.

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  26. Amy, these are beautiful. Thank you so much for posting them. I love collecting shells too and made a mirror with them years ago that we still use. Nothing as grand as these of course. The carved oysters are extraordinary. Very interesting post. I bet you love working in that fascinating place x

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed it. I am sure that your shells are lovely too, and your mirror. That is a great way to use and display them. I do indeed love working there it has to be said! xx

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  27. The carved oyster shells are beautiful. XX

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  28. Beautiful pictures, Amy. I absolutely adore the carved shells... They look like lace.

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  29. These are amazing shells! I can't imagine walking along the beach and coming across such beauties. I love the carved oyster shells. I have a very small shell that has been carved, but I don't know the name of the shell. The top layer is brownish, but then the carved portion is purple. Thanks for sharing this Amy (I'm catching up with you as I've been sans laptop since last week ... son's homework took precedence!). Wendy x

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