Friday, 15 April 2016

The Gothic Wardrobe

The elaborate carvings at the top of The Gothic Wardrobe
of vine leaves, gothic arches and Tudor roses

I'm busy Spring cleaning and have just dusted the carvings on this Gothic Wardrobe. Which reminded me that I have yet to tell this tale. Being an Autumn child this season usually brings me interesting adventures and forays. Last Autumn we found ourselves making a very long drive to pick up a magical wardrobe which I found for sale on ebay.

This post could have been called 'the haunted dressing table', as the antiques dealer we bought this gorgeous and unusual cupboard from shared a very scary tale with us about a dressing table she had bought from a seller who insisted that it was haunted. A ticket which she found in a drawer led her to believe the story of the piece of furniture. But, this post is just about our wardrobe, which we love. Perhaps another time the storyteller may allow me to share her tale.

The Gothic Cottages
prettiest cottage of those in which we live

The workers cottages in which we live are known locally and on history pages as 'the gothic cottages'. They are rather simple, nothing elaborate, but they do echo some gothic design in their front doors, leaded windows and the garden paths of black stone bricks.

Mrs Black strikes a pose in a gothic leaded window
I have always loved the decadence of gothic revival and have a small collection of items which sit quite at home in the cottage.
An oak carving of a Queen's Head
My husband's gothic mantle clock
which strikes prettily at the hour

One of my gothic candlesticks
A little gothic Owl

But I longed for something larger. And then I found it!
Strawberry Hill by Johann Muntz

When we lived near London we were walking distance to Horace Walpole's famous Strawberry Hill, the fantastical gothic house which he had built in Georgian times. In those days it was in need of refurbishment but it has since been saved and is as resplendent as it was in his day.

The moment that I saw the wardrobe on ebay it reminded me of Strawberry Hill.

Strawberry Hill library bookcase detail

The Gothic Wardrobe carvings

A niche at Strawberry Hill

A carved gothic arch on our wardrobe
I did not mean to look for a wardrobe on ebay, and I certainly did not need one. I did not really mean to buy it either and it cost nearly a months wages. But everyday I continued to look at it in awe and worried that someone else might buy it before I had. I've never seen anything like it.

The Gothic Wardrobe in all it's glory

I love dark wood, especially oak,  and it had been painted, but the colours highlighted the carvings and the pale blue would go so well in the newly painted spare bedroom. There is a purity to pale blue shades, they seem to shine with an eerie ethereal light that is both haunting and illuminating. A bedroom has been painted in Farrow and Ball 'Borrowed Light' and if you saw how it reflects the light in the mornings and at dusk you would know that the name is perfect.

How many times have you seen something which really delighted you and which better judgement prevented you from having? These are some of mine.
Gothic looking Royal Albert roses teacup

Art Deco black cat brooch
This red velvet Opera coat on Etsy. Sigh.

Yes, me too, the long list of beautiful things forsaken, yet remembered. I had to have it.

The Gothic Wardrobe
We drove to Herfordshire to pick it up and had a wonderful rare day out visting Ledbury and Hampton Castle. It is a beautiful area of Britain. I love the black and white houses and can imagine how fabulous it would be to live in one.

Black & White with leaded windows in Ledbury

Hampton Court Castle

Being solid oak it took four of us to lift it into the back of our car. The seller did warn us, (while stiffling a giggle)  that it was extremely heavy when I mentioned that I hoped it would go upstairs in our spare bedroom. We had to remove the door to lift it into our cottage. I can laugh now, but it was definitely an adventure. Despite measuring we found that it would not go up our small winding stairs. It was just that bit too wide, and far too heavy. Sigh. It would have looked so beautiful in the bedroom.

One of our old galleon models sits on top of The Gothic Wardrobe.

It dwells in our garden room taking up a whole wall. The previous owner of our cottage loved blue and this room has pale bue/grey tiling and window blinds. We use this room as a dining room and have an old oak carved table and bench which are more Arts and Crafts, but goes well with the wardrobe.  Technically it will cease to be a wardrobe soon as we plan to add more shelves as storage for china and food items. An old model of Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hind sits upon the top of it.

It's beautiful right down to the bottom
where a small heart is carved into the heavy oak

I've had to sell a very nice mid century, wallpapered kitchen cupboard to make room for this, but I think the old cupboard suits us better. Upon asking if there was any history for it the seller told us that she had bought it at a local sale but that her Mother had said that she had seen cupboards just like in churches by the confessionals where you would hang your coats. I'd love to know more about it and if anyone has ever come across one similar please leave me a comment.

So .... what am I going to put on that wall in the bedroom? Watch this space.

The website of Strawberry Hill is HERE:

Read and see sumptous photos of Strawberry Hill on Jacqueline@Home


  1. LeeAnn, it's not a hippie van but check out 'carthedral' here- one of my favorite art cars...

  2. What adventures you must have! I love the "walk-through" you gave us of your home.

  3. I couldn't tell you anything about your wardrobe except that it is a gorgeous piece and you are very fortunate to be the owner of it.

    1. Thank you Rosemary. It will have a good home with us until we are no longer here and it is passed on to the next generation who loves Gothic. x

  4. Dearest LeeAnn,
    Congratulations for managing to buy this, haul it off to your home and even if it didn't fit in the staircase sizing to be brought upstairs, you have a wonderful and very unique piece of furniture.
    Sending you hugs,

  5. Love.

    Dearest LeeAnn and MISS BLACK kitty, your shares are amazing. How I'd love to go right now and stroll through a world unknown to me, such as your countryside. The Gothic design itself conjures up images of fairytales. Pointy tips raised to the sky, elaborate but angular designs speak of a kingdom of fantasy.

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment on my post. Isn't that blue dress amazing? Wouldn't it look splendid in your Gothic wardrobe?

    Many thanks again for the warm welcome back to Blogland. Anita

    1. Anita, That blue dress is so magical - a real work of art. Always such a joy to read your posts and to hear from you. x

  6. I am beyond jealous of your beautiful wardrobe, Mrs. Black. It's a stunning piece! So many things I've had to pass by over the years due to lack of funds, and I remember each of them vividly. :)

    1. It is funny isn't it how some items we had to pass by haunt us so. x

  7. I really want to see Strawberry Hill one day!

    I would not have thought pale blue and white would suit a Gothic wardrobe until I saw yours but it really highlights the carvings!

    1. Laura, I would have thought this also, except that I had ben to Strawberry Hill and saw how ethereal blues work so well with heavy carvings. It seems to life them without taking away their very essence. You must visit Strawberry Hill. It is in a lovely neighbourhood too, many Arts and Crafts homes, and not far from a shell grotto on the river there. x

  8. Oh my word, that sublimely elegant wardrobe almost seems to beautiful to be true - as though it just transported into this realm from an alternative fairy tale world. What a stunning, unique and endlessly beautiful piece of furniture. I think it will be the yardstick by which I measure all other wardrobes henceforth.

    Many hugs & heartfelt thanks for your lovely comment on my latest vintage outfit post,
    ♥ Jessica

    1. Jessica, It is a rather heavenly piece of furniture isn't it? x

  9. I'd have driven far for the wardrobe too. It was meant for you.

    1. Thank you! Seems a little mad, but then ..... x

  10. A very nice to present your gothics, thanks LeeAnn.


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