Red Lodge Museum, Bristol

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Red Lodge Museum
Red Lodge
Red Lodge Museum, Bristol is located in Bristol
Red Lodge Museum, Bristol
Location within Bristol
General information
Town or city Park Row, Bristol BS1 5LJ
Country England
Coordinates 51°27′20″N 2°35′58″W / 51.455556°N 2.599583°W / 51.455556; -2.599583
Completed 1580
Client John Yonge
Red Lodge Museum

The Red Lodge Museum (grid reference ST582731) is a historic house museum in Bristol, England. The original building was Tudor/Elizabethan, built in 1579-1580,[1] and the main additional building phases are from the 1730s and the early 19th century.[1]

The Red Lodge is a free museum, managed as a branch of Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery and Bristol City Council.

The Red Lodge is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Easter to the end of June its open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

July to end of August its open Tuesday through Sunday.

September to end of November its open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.[1]

Brief History[edit]

The Red Lodge Museum has an Elizabethan Knot Garden.

John Young and the Great House[edit]

The Red Lodge was originally built at the top of the gardens of "ye Great House of St. Augustine's Back".[2] The Great House was built in 1568[3] on the site of an old Carmelite Priory[2] by John Young/Yonge, the descendant of a merchant family and courtier to Henry VIII and Elizabeth I,[4] and is now the site of Colston Hall.

The Red Lodge would have originally been used as a guest house and entertainment pavilion, so that the Young family could promenade their guests through their eight ornamental gardens and orchards to wine and dine them.[5]

John Young died in 1589 shortly after the Red Lodge was completed, and his 19-year-old son, Robert Young[3] inherited the entire estate. Robert quickly spent his inheritance and had to convey the Red Lodge to Nicholas Strangeways to avoid seizure.[6] By 1595, the building was rented out to various tenants as a residence separate from the Great House.[7] Robert Young sold the Great House to Sir Hugh Smyth of Ashton Court.[8]

John and Mary Henley's extensions[edit]

In the 1730s, John and Mary Henley bought the Red Lodge and started major extension work on the north side,[9] doubling the footprint of the building, fitting large Georgian windows, and rebuilding with hipped roofs and eaves, and cornices replacing gables, giving a full-height second floor.[10]

The Henley’s refurbished the Reception Room and part-refurbished the Parlour, leaving some original panelling and the original decorated ceiling,[10] but made minimal changes to the Great Oak Room, Small Oak Room and Bedroom, leaving the rich Tudor decoration largely untouched.

Before the end of the extension work, John Henley died, leaving Mary Henley childless and unable to inherit. John wrote into his will that Mary had the right to live in the Red Lodge for one month in every year.[citation needed] This meant that the building could not be leased out long-term or sold to a new owner.[citation needed]

James Cowles Pritchard and short-term tenants[edit]

After the Henleys died the Red Lodge was leased to tenants practising medicine working at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, including James Cowles Pritchard who wrote Researches into the Physical History of Man, and Francis Cheyne Bowles and Richard Smith, who used the Great Oak Room as a dissection theatre.[11]

In the 19th century, the current entrance to the building from Park Row was added, as well as the rooms to the East of the original core.[citation needed]

Mary Carpenter and the Girls’ Reform School[edit]

In 1854 the building was bought by Lady Byron, using Lord Byron’s endowment and given to Mary Carpenter to use as a school.[12] Mary Carpenter was a zealous reformer and founded the first ever Girls’ Reformatory at the Red Lodge to encapsulate her radical and progressive ideas of improvement and nurture for the nation’s poor,[13] in contrast to the harsh workhouses and prisons which were the common solution in the Victorian Era.[14]

The Red Lodge was used as a Reform School until 1917, during which time Carpenter used her standing as Superintendent to lobby parliament and travel the world researching the plight of ‘pauper children’.[13]

Red Lodge Museum and the Bristol Savages[edit]

In 1919, James Fuller Eberle saved the Red Lodge’s historic interior from being pulled apart and sold piecemeal by buying the building for the Bristol Savages[15] and the Bristol Corporation.[15] The Savages couldn’t cope with the upkeep of the whole historic building, so CFW Dening[10] built the Wigwam in the garden in 1920[16] and converted the Victorian Laundry into their studio, leaving the bulk of the Tudor, Georgian and Victorian building to the Corporation, which became Bristol City Council.

The Council renovated the building once in 1920 and again in 1956[9] before opening the Red Lodge as a museum. From then onwards the building has been a branch of the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, along with Georgian House, Blaise Castle House, Kings Weston Roman Villa and MShed.

The next stages of development at the Red Lodge Museum are reinstating the fixtures of the New Oak Room and including interpretation for the well which was discovered; and re-ordering the garden paving to make it safe for visitors to enjoy.[17]

The rooms[edit]

The Great Oak Room[edit]

Original Tudor/Elizabethan panelling in the Great Oak Room.

The Great Oak Room retains its original oak panelling, moulded plaster ceiling and ‘double-decker’ fireplace, making it “one of the finest rooms in the West Country”.[18] Entrance is via an oak internal porch, similar to that of Montacute House.[10] The only features which have changed since the room was built are the enlarged Georgian windows, giving a view onto the knot garden.[19]

The Small Oak Room and Bedroom[edit]

The Small Oak Room and Bedroom are contemporary with the Great Oak Room but much less richly panelled. The Bedroom has the moulded plaster ceiling upon which the knot garden’s design is based. The common layout of Tudor rooms in an apartment with people travelling from most public to most intimate suggests that the Great Oak Room was the most public room whilst the Small Oak Room and Bedroom were more private antechambers, possibly bedrooms and cabinets.[20]

The Print Room[edit]

The Print Room is part of the 18th-century extension of the Lodge and has been renovated by the Museum to look like a typical Print Room of the period. The collection of tiles around the fireplace, examples of marquetry and parquetry in the furniture and the ‘japanned’ grandfather clock represent the fashion of the early eighteenth century.[21]

The Mary Carpenter Room[edit]

The Mary Carpenter Room contains a display of the history of the Red Lodge as a school, a painting by the Savages of Mary Carpenter with her first pupil, a photo of Mary Carpenter, and Mary Carpenter's Broadwood piano, bought for the house in 1845.[citation needed] On the window of this room can be seen the etched words "for get me not" [sic] which were most likely written when the building was used as the Reform School.[citation needed]

The Staircase[edit]

The grand Georgian staircase and landing display portraits of notable people linked with the house – John and Mary Henley, Robert Yeamans, Robert Poyntz, Florence Poulett, William Herbert, the Third Earl of Pembroke, and Col. Adrian Scrope. The staircase was designed with as many windows as possible and nobly proportioned, with a grand chandelier to illuminate Mary Henley and her guests as they processed into the Reception Room.[10]

The Reception Room and Parlour[edit]

The Parlour Fireplace.

Though the Reception Room and Parlour are in the original Tudor core of the house, they underwent major renovations by the Henleys to present them as fashionable Georgian rooms.[citation needed] The Reception Room shows a beam where the original external south wall stood, but was knocked through to incorporate the loggia and extend the room as far as possible.

The Parlour has a mixture of Georgian Deal panelling and original Tudor oak panelling, and an original moulded plaster ceiling. The Parlour also has niches and hybrid door/windows where the 19th Century extensions were made, blocking off bay windows.[citation needed]

The New Oak Room and the Well[edit]

The New Oak Room was extensively altered in the nineteenth century, and in 1965 the museum re-used older fixtures and fittings from other sites to decorate the room.[10] The panelling is pre-18th century, bought from the Refectory of St Michael-on-the-Mount,[10] and the mantelpiece and fire surround from Ashley Down House.[10]

The New Oak Room is being restored after the floor, panelling and fireplace were removed to protect them from damp. While removing the floor, the Museum discovered the remains of a well, as yet undated, but presumably from before the Georgian extension.[citation needed]

The Second Floor[edit]

The Tudor gabled attic was extended into a full-height second floor by the Henleys.[10] It has a similar floor-plan to the first floor and was used as bedrooms in the Georgian period, then dormitories when it was a school.[citation needed] In the 1970s the entire floor was converted into a flat for the caretaker of the museum, and it is now used for storage.[citation needed]

Notable features[edit]

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I[edit]

The Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I in the Great Oak Room is on loan to the Museum from a private collector.[citation needed] It was originally thought to be a later copy, but has recently been re-assessed as an original painted in the late 16h century.[citation needed]

Speke Chair/Table[edit]

The chair in the Great Oak Room folds down so that the back turns into the table-top. Hybrid furniture was not uncommon in the Tudor period (ie. Chests used as tables and chairs).[22] The Speke family are an aristocratic family from near Ilminster, Somerset.[23]

Portrait of Florence Smyth and her black "Page"[edit]

In the Small Oak Room is a portrait of Florence Smyth, of the Smyth Family and her black ‘Page’. There is no information on the identity of the boy in the portrait, so it can’t be said whether the boy is a slave, a servant, or a peer of Florence’s.[citation needed] If the boy is a slave then it is probably the earliest depiction of a slave in the UK.[citation needed]

Reproduction Mary Queen of Scots' embroidery[edit]

The bed linen in the Bedroom was created in the 1980s to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the building.[citation needed] The designs include depictions of common English animals (a badger and spider); more exotic animals (a tiger and a hammerhead shark); and mythical beasts (a unicorn and a phoenix).

Mary Carpenter's Piano[edit]

The piano in the Mary Carpenter Room is the original Broadwood piano bought by Mary Carpenter in 1845.[citation needed] The fabric panel on the front of a Broadwood is usually made from silk,[24] so it is possible that the fabric and embroidery on this one were a project for the school girls.

18th Century Spinet[edit]

The Spinet in the Print Room was made by Benjamin Slade in 1702.[25] It has been at the Red Lodge since at least 1935 when Alec Hodson restored it.[25] The Museum and the Bristol Savages tune it every year and it is used as part of the Savages' festivities.[25]

Walnut Bureau with hidden compartments[edit]

The Walnut Bureau and shelves in the Reception Room hide approximately 25 hidden compartments.[citation needed] Expensive pieces of furniture in the Georgian period often incorporated secret compartments to store sensitive documents and precious objects.[citation needed] The Bureau was originally one of a pair, and a university student created a perfect replica as their final project.[citation needed]

The Skinner Chair[edit]

The Skinner chair with 'Actaeon' frieze.

The Skinner Chair in the Parlour was carved for Bishop Skinner in the late 17th century.[citation needed] The story told in the relief is that of Actaeon the Hunter who angered Artemis and was punished by being turned into a deer and attacked by his own hunting party.

The chair has been used on two royal occasions – Prince Albert sat on it in 1848 when Bristol’s Albert Dock was renamed in his honour,[26] and Edward VII sat on it in 1908 when the Edward VII Dock was opened.[27]

Portrait of Archbishop of York, Tobias Matthew[edit]

The portrait of Archbishop of York Tobias Matthew is hung in the Parlour on a hinge, because the back of the painting is as interesting as the front. By swinging the painting ‘open’ the back is revealed and shows that the painted surface is actually the back of a piece of marqueted wood showing figures in Elizabethan dress, towers with pointed roofs, water and plants.[citation needed]

The Knot Garden[edit]

The Elizabethan Knot Garden.

The Garden viewed from the Parlour and Great Oak Room is a 1980s interpretation of an Elizabethan Knot Garden.[citation needed] The box hedge ‘knot’ is copied from the design incorporated into the ceiling of the Bedroom.[citation needed] Herbs and flowers are mixed together in beds as was the fashion in the 1630s [reference], and all the plants used would have been common in a similar garden of the period.[citation needed] The trellis is copied from a French seventeenth century design.[28]

Media and modern day usage[edit]

Art and sculpture[edit]

In 2006, Bristol City Council, Arts Council England and Bristol Museum and Art Gallery partnered with Plan 9 for a one-off modern sculpture exhibition at the Red Lodge.

Responding to the building, the selected artists take on board sensitivities of politics past, ongoing preservation, and today's nervy ambiguities. The works contrast and compliment the architecture and decoration of the Red Lodge but none sit too comfortably, and the friction they create subtly transforms this Elizabethan house.[29]

Film and theatre[edit]

The Ithaca Axis performed a roaming piece of theatre, parts of which were set in the Great Oak Room and the Garden In 2013, Galliard Films made an online documentary as a fun, informal way of looking into some of the history of the Red Lodge.[30]


  1. ^ a b c "Red Lodge Museum". Bristol City Council. 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Young's Great House". MShed. 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Feuding Gentry and an Affray on College Green, Bristol, in 1579" (PDF). Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society. 2004. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  4. ^ A Bristol Miscellany. Alan Sutton Publishing Limited. 1985. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Black Lives in the English Archives, 1500-1677. Ashgate Publishing. 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  6. ^ A Chronological Outline of the History of Bristol and the Stranger's Guide Through its Streets and Neighbourhood. John Evans. 1824. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Pastscape Red Lodge Museum". English Heritage. 2007. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "Oxford DNB Smyth Family". Oxford DNB. 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Time Travel Britain: Bristol's Red Lodge and it's Elizabethan Knot Garden". Yvonne Cuthbertson. 2006. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bristol Pevsner Guide (Andrew Foyle). Yale. 2004. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "University of Bristol D-mis homepage". University of Bristol. 2003. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  12. ^ Victorian Childhood: Themes and Variations. University of New York. 1987. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Mary Carpenter and the Children of the Streets. Heinemann Educational. 1976. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  14. ^ What shall we do with the Pauper Children?. Mary Carpenter. 1861. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  15. ^ a b "Bristol Savages". Bristol Savages. 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "Bristol Savages". Bristol Post. 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  17. ^ "Photo Garden Development Sign". dropbox. 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "Visit Bristol Red Lodge Museum". Visit Bristol. 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  19. ^ "Artfund The Red Lodge Museum". Artfund. 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  20. ^ Kensington Palace: An Illustrated Guide to the State Apartments. London Museum. 1958. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  21. ^ Classic Decorative Details. Collins & Browns. 1994. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  22. ^ "Tudor Furniture". sixwives. 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  23. ^ "Oxford DNB Speke". Oxford DNB. 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  24. ^ Makers of the Piano: 1820-1860. Oxford University Press. 1999. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  25. ^ a b c "The English Spinet with particular reference to The Schools of Keene and Hitchcock". The University of Edinburgh. 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  26. ^ "Albert Dock - Bristol - British Listed Buildings". 1994. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  27. ^ "Bristol Floating Harbour". Bristol City Council. 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  28. ^ "Garden Visit: The Red Lodge Garden". 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  29. ^ "Plan9 Wig Wam Bam". Plan9. 2006. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  30. ^ "Galliard Films". Galliard Films. 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 

External links[edit]