Arts and Craft Room
Reflecting the Arts and Crafts movement, and other popular fashions of the period, the interior features carved oak panelling and, in the grand Staircase Hall, six Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Frederick Shields and a cosy inglenook fireplace.
Bantock House also has fine examples of English porcelain and ceramics including Delftware tiles, Royal Worcester, Bloor Derby and Myatt, exquisite examples of locally made japanned ware, enamels and steel jewellery, as well as a display of children’s toys and dolls.
Baldwin Bantock included a Billiard Room in his plans for the major renovation work that took place in the early 1900s. By extending one of the bedrooms he created a cosy alcove where gentlemen might sit to discuss business and politics between games. The fireplace in the alcove is a feature of the room with its round, tiled hearth and twisted wooden columns. The game of billiards had existed since the 1500s but new ways of making tables and equipment, plus the introduction of a standard set of rules, led to a surge in popularity in the late 1800s. The plans for the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton, which opened in 1894, include several ‘Billiard Rooms’. The room now provides an ideal setting to explore the lives of influential men from Wolverhampton’s past, with portraits of six prominent businessmen around the walls. They were carefully selected to reflect their impact upon the town, not only in their business lives but also through politics and philanthropy. Information about their lives accompanies the portraits, and objects relating to each man can be found in drawers beneath the billiard table.
John Marston had been a japanned ware manufacturer. When fashions changed he decided to try his hand at producing the bicycles which were becoming so popular, using his japanning technology to give a high-quality finish. His Sunbeam brand cycles proved a hit, especially the top of the range ‘Golden Sunbeam’ with its unique oil bath for the chain. The composer Edward Elgar owned two Sunbeam bicycles, both of which he named ‘Mr Phoebus’. The room features another japanner, Henry Loveridge, who was one of the founders of the Wolverhampton School of Art and Design. He argued that to get the best out of people working in local factories they must be well educated. Charles Mander, who was well known to the Bantocks through their shared interest in politics and charity work, also features. His family made their name in the manufacture of varnishes and paints and by the late 1800s boasted that they had branches and agencies in ‘all civilised countries of the world’. The family were also prominent in local politics and three mayors of Wolverhampton bore the name of Mander between the years 1892 and 1937.
The Dining Room at Bantock House Museum still has original features and artwork displayed. As well as the solid oak table there is a picture of Scottish highland cattle that used to roam the grounds. As a tribute to these animals our regular visitors will know Haymish who sits to the front of the house.
When the Bantock family lived in the house the dining room was served by a hatch in the corner of the room, partly concealed by a leather screen. Food was passed through from the kitchen staff to a maid, who carried it to the table. A bell push, which would have been installed when electricity was introduced to the house in the late 1800s, can be seen to the right of the fireplace. This would have rung a bell in the kitchen to let the staff know when to serve the next course. The serving hatch has now been converted into a glass fronted display case to hold items from the museum collection.
The Bantock’s dining furniture was mahogany and probably dated back to Georgian times. When Kitty Bantock left the house in 1939 there was an auction of many household items, including antiques made by well known names such as Sheraton and Chippendale.
When Baldwin and Kitty Bantock lived in the house the Drawing Room was laid out much as it is today with a sofa placed centrally, facing the fireplace.
The glass fronted cabinets were installed at the same time as the oak panelling which can be seen throughout the ground floor. According to the accounts ledger of the craftsman, George Pugh, the cost of “selecting, making and fixing” the oak panels in the Drawing Room was £147.12s.0d. It is interesting to note that although the basic style of the panelling is the same, there are differences in the carved patterns in each room. The papier mache ceilings in this room and the dining room also differ in style. The frieze, another interesting feature of the room, is made of plaster.
Baldwin and Kitty added the bay window to give them a wonderful view of their gardens. As in the Dining Room they selected antique Delft tiles for the fireplace, this time depicting birds from all over the world, each a different species. The tiles date from the 18th Century and suggest that the Bantocks were mindful of the age of the original farmhouse when they redesigned its interior.
The original New Merridale House farm buildings, as Bantock was formally known, can still be seen at the rear of the building, and are now foundly refered to as the Tractor Shed and Performance Space. These area’s of Bantock have been used for various things throughout it’s time.
Firstly a set of stables then a garage with room for two cars with a chauffeur’s room and a uniforms room. The other buildings known as Workshop 1 and 2 would have been used as the fruit and vegetables store.
For more information on Bantock Park see: www.wolverhampton.gov.uk