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Furnishings

Green flock wallpaper at Sudley House

Wallpaper in the dining room

When Sudley House was the Holt family home it would have looked very different inside compared to how it looks today. The furniture and contents were not part of the family's bequest, so the feel of an authentic house of that period has been recreated. Inside you will find real Victorian furniture and accurate modern reproductions, Victorian colour schemes and decoration.

Wallpaper and curtains

Victorians thought of dining rooms as having a male character, which is probably because women left the room after dessert while the men stayed and drank and smoked. In the dining room, the furniture and decoration is supposed to be 'masculine' with textures that are less soft than in other rooms in the house.

The green wallpaper in the dining room is from the 1880s and has been cleaned rather than repainted. It has a raised, moulded surface, made from tightly compressed flock. It has a hard surface, which was meant to contrast with the softer, more 'feminine' surfaces in the drawing room next door.

This type of wallpaper was patented by Frederic Aumonier of Woollam's. The idea of a hard, raised surface came from the very first wallpaper made by Lincrusta, which was based on linoleum. This type of wallpaper can still be bought today.

Curtains in the drawing room

The soft furnishings in the dining room did not survive and so they have been replaced. Wool curtains have been used, which also contrast with the drawing room and its softer textures. A woven design by William Morris, 'Honeysuckle' of 1876, was chosen because an accurate modern reproduction was available. Reproduction net curtains, by Warners, have been used throughout the ground floor with a 'Violetta' pattern.

In the drawing room the wallpaper was originally flocked, but in the 1940s when Liverpool City Council took over the house they painted the paper, turning it from soft to hard. The soft texture was an important part of the room's message as a 'feminine' space, however it was not possible to make the paper soft again. Instead it has been repainted and is close to its original colour, with the addition of soft-textured curtains in a silk and chenille fabric from Chelsea Harbour Design Centre.

Light fittings

When the contents of the house were sold in 1946, it still had no electric light. The original gasolier in the dining room was listed in the sale as a 'massive copper five-light centre fitting with balance weights and opalescent shades'. A gasolier matching that description was found by Fritz Fryer, a specialist lighting dealer in Ross-on-Wye and has been fitted for electricity. The balance weights were to allow the heavy gasolier to be pulled down for cleaning.

Ornate brass light fitting

The gasolier light fitting in the dining room