The music room, Holmestead, July 1901

Merchant Palaces - Liverpool and Wirral mansions photographed by Bedford Lemere

16 February to 13 May 2007

Interior of grand room with paintings and a harp

Reproduced by permission of English Heritage.NMR (BL16685)

The builder Samuel Holme erected Holmestead for himself in the 1840s. The original Gothic villa was doubled in size in 1869-70 by a new owner, the cotton broker Michael Belcher.

At the time this photograph of the music room was taken Holmestead was occupied by the shipowner and art collector William Imrie. Dominating the room is the painting 'The Tree of Forgiveness'| by Edward Burne-Jones, which was later acquired by William H Lever and is now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery. The wallpaper is William Morris's 'Acanthus' pattern, designed in 1875. Imrie also owned two versions of 'Dante's Dream' by Rossetti, one of which can be seen in another photograph in the Bedford Lemere Collection. The original full size painting is in the Walker Art Gallery.

Domestic music parties were important social occasions and professional performers were sometimes employed. The chemical manufacturer Andrew Kurtz attended a concert at Holmestead in 1882, featuring opera singers who had recently performed at the Alexandria Theatre in Lime Street. He noted in his diary:

"One or two of the men had fine voices, but the prima donna's voice was in a state of rapid decay."