Welcome back to an A to Z of discovery at Kiplin Hall and Gardens. Today we explore the letter T, for Travellers Bedroom. A small but much-loved room in the historic house.
The Travellers Bedroom is located on the first floor. Today it is accessed from the servant’s tunnel or the WW2 apartment. Its glamour and elegance are a stark contrast to these utilitarian spaces. Named the Travellers Bedroom because many of the items in this room are from far flung parts of the globe, brought back to Kiplin by family members on their travels for work, service or leisure.
This spirit of travel and adventure is embodied in the wonderful mid-17th century paintings of Japanese ships which hang on the walls. They belonged to the last owner of Kiplin Hall Bridget Talbot’s elder brother, Humphrey, and hung in his Elizabethan house, Swakeleys in Middlesex, in the 1920s. They depict the visit of a Korean Embassy to Japan and were originally one long scroll. More ships from the same scroll survive as a screen in a private collection in Japan, and a further four paintings hang in the Servants’ Corridor.
The spectacular bed is Italian and dates from the late 18th century. It is said to have been brought by Bridget Talbot from Ashridge Park, the home of her aunt, Lady Adelaide Talbot, in the 1930s. The bed is painted and parcel gilt and contains an extraordinary mixture of symbols and mythological figures. The four finials on the upper corners have double-headed eagles, symbols of the Byzantine and Habsburg Empires, among others. On the base, at the corner of each side, is a Talbot hound from the Talbot coat of arms.
On either side of the bed are two Chinese paintings of an elderly man and his wife, with other family members, shown on a house terrace and in the courtyard. In Chinese culture, a long, healthy and prosperous life is most admirable. Pine trees symbolise longevity, steadfastness, and self-discipline. The Crane is the most valued bird in Chinese culture and is the ancient symbol for longevity because of its exceptionally long life span. The Peacock symbolises dignity and beauty. The Lotus flowers on the pond symbolise purity of the heart and mind and represent longevity, humility, honour and tranquillity.
The painted leather screen appears to be Chinese but is actually English Chinoiserie (made in England) and dates from about 1750. The Savonarola (X-frame) chairs are mid-18th century and come from Goa in India. They are made of ebony with delicate ivory inlay, including the figures of a 17th century lady and gentleman on the chair backs. The telescope made by Dollond, may have belonged to John Delaval Carpenter, or Admiral Carpenter’s father.
The Travellers Bedroom provides a window into the past lives and lifestyles of the people who lived at Kiplin, their families, and adventures. A welcome view when travel around the world is currently restricted for many. For visitors to Kiplin with an urge for exploration Crowes Wood Halloween Trail is open from 16th – 31st October 2021. The outdoor trail takes a light-hearted approach to Halloween intended to tickle your funny bone; mischievous skeletons emerge from the undergrowth in the woodland and walled garden. (The lakeside walk will remain a Halloween free zone for any visitors who may not enjoy this spooky element.) Kiplin Hall is open 6 days a week, closed on Thursdays. It will close for the season 31st October while the hall is dressed for Christmas.