This lavish interior is the epitome of late 18th century high society décor, especially in England. Looking at a room like this one instinctively imagines men in brocaded jackets, powdered wigs and buckle shoes, women in crinoline dresses with towering hairstyles and chalky makeup, and perhaps somebody playing a harpsichord. This room is called “The Saloon,” and it’s part of the Georgian manor at an estate called Saltram House, in Plympton (near Plymouth), England. As you can plainly see, the opulent 1700s are alive and well at Saltram House.
Notice the gilded furniture–chairs, settee and a couch all with the same ornately carved pattern painted in gold, with silk upholstery that matches the wallpaper. The chandeliers with their hundreds of crystals would have been lowered in the evenings for their candles to be lit by hand by the servants, then raised again before drinks, cards or whatever would have gone on in this room. Through the polished doors on the far right I can see what looks like a dining room though I can’t be sure. Likely, guests invited to dine at Saltram House would have retired to the Saloon for an after-dinner drink. Perhaps the expensive oil paintings would have been a topic of conversation. Note also the intricate moulding just underneath the ceiling.
The site of Saltram House was originally a homestead farm in the 16th century, and a succession of families, each richer than the last (at least for a time), lived on the property for the next 200 years. There was a mansion here by the mid-17th century, but it was in Georgian times, the mid-18th century, where it reached its apotheosis. This room and its decoration date from about 1768 when it was extensively remodeled by Lord Boringdon, the then-owner, and his wife. The fortunes of this family, originally known as the Parkers, declined until by the 1860s they were nearly bankrupt. The house came into public trust ownership after World War II and is now operated as a museum and heritage site. Evidently The Saloon is the highlight of the tour.