When you’re throwing a party, one of the first orders of business is to make sure your most impressive fixtures and fitting are all on show.
And at a unique 300th birthday celebration at Temple Newsam House next week, a sumptuous suite of floral furniture will be displayed in all its glory for the first time in years.
The colourful collection of chairs and sofas, which were supplied to the house in 1746, is usually carefully shielded to protect its delicate textiles from the sun.
But to coincide with celebrations for the 300 th birthday of renowned landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown on Aug 30, the covers have finally come off this week, giving guests a rare chance to view the beautifully crafted suite while enjoying tea, dancing and some of the estate’s incredible views.
Rachel Conroy, curator at Temple Newsam said: “The suite is absolutely stunning and a fabulous piece of craftsmanship, but usually we have to cover all but one of the pieces to protect them from potential damage from the sun.
“It’s not every day we host a 300th birthday party for such an historic figure though, so we decided to give guests a very rare opportunity to experience the suite in its full splendour.
“We hope that they’ll help to paint a more vivid picture of what life at the house was like for those who lived here and help guests to appreciate just how closely the landscape and the house work in harmony.”
The historic suite of furniture was commissioned for the picture gallery more than 300 years ago and supplied by James Pascall, a noted guilder, carver and frame maker.
Each of the chairs and sofas, as well as a lavish daybed, is upholstered with a distinctive pattern, which helped them play a key role in the picture gallery’s original indoor garden theme by creating a border of flowers around the room.
Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “The long history of Temple Newsam features so many intriguing characters and stories, and that is reflected so perfectly by the breathtakingly colourful and varied collection of objects and antiquities contained within the house’s walls.
“Next week’s celebration not only marks the birth of one of the country’s most renowned landscape designers, but also the important role that Temple Newsam has played in the history of Leeds.”
As well as the suite, one of the highlight’s of next week’s celebration is the performance of a specially-commissioned dance that will weave its way through the house and into the gardens.
The performance, entitled Moving Through the Landscape, will see participants using dance and movement to highlight some of the house’s historic features.
Workshops have been taking place for the last six weeks, led by professional dance artists Gerry Turvey and Tara Baker and involving a wide range of participants from a number of local community groups many of whom have never danced before.
The 15 dancers, aged from one to 60, will now perform for guests at next week’s event.
The project has been funded by the Capability Brown Festival which is supporting historic sites across the country to celebrate the iconic designer’s 300th birthday.
The event will also include bunting making from 10.30am and costumed characters dressed as Lancelot Capability Brown and Frances Shepheard, the former owner of the house.
The Arbeau dance group will also perform in Georgian costume in the Picture Gallery at 12.15pm and 3pm and visitors can also enjoy an afternoon Capabili-Tea, with live piano accompaniment, in the Great Hall of the House.
The party and dance performance will take place on Aug 30. Booking is essential as numbers are limited. Call 0113 3367460 or email Temple.Newsam.House@leeds.gov.uk.