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Wilton House 24th June led by Richard Burt

On the 24 June a group of 20 Probus members and Partners met at Wilton House, Salisbury the home to the 18th Earl and Countess of Pembroke. The visit, organised by Richard Burt, began with coffee and cookies in the cafe followed by guided tours of the house which provides a fascinating insight into British history. It has been a family home for over 450 years and is built on the site of a 9th century nunnery it is set in 21acres of landscaped parkland, with water and rose gardens beside the River Nadder. It has provided the backdrop for many tv series and films including Bridgerton, Emma, Tomb Raider, The Crown, Pride & Prejudice and The Madness of King George.

 

The house and grounds were granted by Henry VIII to Sir William Herbert and ancestor of the current Earl in 1544. The house has been inextricably linked to the political and artistic circles of England whilst at the same time providing employment and homes for estate workers. Wilton House is famous for its sculptures but it was the art collection that was most memorable. There are a number of original paintings by Jan Lievens, Rembrandt a fine group of Richard Wilson landscapes. The Pembroke family portrait by Anthony Van Dyck adorns the Double Cube Room and a number of other Van Dyck originals are hung throughout the house. Other commissioned portraits of family members include a wonderful sequence of works by Joshua Reynolds. A final mention must go to the magnificent Violin Bookcase, in the Large Smoking Room. Designed by William Chambers in 1760 it is perhaps the most valuable piece made by Thomas Chippendale.

 

The buffet lunch back in the cafe was a welcome sojourn from the cultural experience. The afternoon was spent visiting the Earl’s classic car collection and walking the grounds alongside the river Nadder. Thanks must go to the Wilton House staff, tour guides and Ministry of Food in the cafe who were all extremely knowledgable, polite and accommodating throughout the day.

 

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