A Day in the north Midlands

Wightwick Manor is a late Victorian manor house near Wolverhampton which is stuffed full with furnishings, accessories and works of art of the Aesthetic and Arts & Crafts movements. We had it on our list for some time and eventually found time to visit this weekend.

The collection here also includes Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Edward Burne-Jones, John Millais and others; and original William Morris wallpapers and fabrics.

The house was built and furnished by a local industrialist, Theodore Mander, and his wife Flora. In choosing how to decorate the house they were influenced by Oscar Wilde's House Beautiful lecture, in which he advised having nothing in a house which is not useful or beautiful. In explaining the principles of Aesthetics, he urged his audience to get rid of dull paintings and pointless knick-knacks, and to use their very best china on a daily basis. These principles are followed everywhere in Wightwick Manor.
Entrance to Wightwick Manor
The Great Parlour
Settee upholstered in William Morris fabrics
Love Among The Ruins by Edward Burne-Jones
Effie Ruskin, wife of John Ruskin, by John Millais - soon after this was painted, Effie left Ruskin and married Millais
Original William Morris wallpapers in one of the bedrooms
The mantelpiece in the Indian Bird Room
Part of a frieze by Cecil Aldin, in the children's nursery

Detailed carving on one of the beds

Part of an embroidered wall-hanging, after Edward Burne-Jones' The Mill

We emerged from Wightwick Manor overwhelmed by the sheer amount of beautiful things we had just enjoyed and started to wend our way home. Not far away is David Austin Roses, a huge nursery of English Roses, where we stopped for refreshments. Again, the beauty was overwhelming.

On our way back to the M6 we had an unexpected stop at the village of Tong, prompted by our view of the unusual church from the main road. We had stumbled across a real gem. The present building is 15th century although there has been a church here for a lot longer. Tong is now a sleepy little village but previously there was a theology college, a castle and an infirmary.
St Bartholomew's Collegiate Church - there was formerly a theology college here
There are so many medieval tombs that there is hardly any room for a congregation

Medieval tiles
Beautiful carvings

The ceiling of a side chapel
Just outside the church are the ruins of the 13th century Infirmary

And finally, as we were passing, we stopped at Sandbach to check out the 9th century Saxon crosses. There are two, positioned in the middle of the market square and whilst they look a little incongruous this must be better than locking them away in a museum. Despite being exposed to the elements for over 1,000 years, the detailed carvings of biblical scenes are still in fantastic condition.

A great day, most of it being spent overwhelmed by beautiful things.