We have just purchased, thanks to gifts and donations as well as money the property has put aside, a new chandelier for the Nash Staircase! This new light fitting is part of the project’s aim to return the interiors of the Nash Staircase and Picture Gallery to their Regency splendour.
Strangely no lighting at all is listed in the 1827 bankruptcy sale for the staircase, however in the second sale two years later a “15-inch bronze frame cut-glass Grecian Lamp, with patent two-light burner, ormolu chains, pulleys and lines to ceiling” is mentioned. It was unclear if this was the light for this space or it had been left here with other unsold lots.
A recent discovery of an 1842 inventory (on the death of 3rd Lord Berwick) gives a very similar description: “Hanging lamp 2 burners cut glass pan balance weight cord & pullies”.
The light fitting in the Nash staircase that was possibly installed by the 8th Lord and Lady Berwick has been referred to as a ‘dog’s breakfast’ in the past by some experts, however it has now been identified as a typical French lantern from the entrance to a Parisian ‘hôtel particulier‘ (a grand detached town house set back off a street) and was probably brought in a Parisian antiques shop by Thomas, 8th Lord Berwick when he was purchasing other antiques and textiles for Attingham.
This light never did justice to the staircase in either its appearance or in its ability to light the space on dull days.
After a lot of research and investigation, the historic lighting adviser to the National Trust identified a suitable light fitting at a specialist antique dealer in London.
The new chandelier is a c.1830 English gilded and cut-glass Regency Colza Dish.
As part of the redesign of the outer and inner skylight, there will be a manual winch installed so that we can easily clean the fitting and change a light bulb. Before the project we used to hook and pull the light fitting towards us with the help of an adapted long handled broom!
We will be looking at additional historic lighting in this space at a later date, as there is evidence to suggest there was lighting underneath the staircase as well as the central hanging light – watch this space.