(I've had to invent a brand new category for this post! And I'm adding the sub-heading 'Bollywood meets Bohemian Rhapsody' which is the phrase I've finally come up with to describe Priory House (Lincolnshire) following our recent weekend visit there at the kind invitation of Roger and Carole Lee.
It all started with my blog... no, it all started with a post I did on a show of my father Hubert Dalwood's sculpture at Leeds City Art Gallery. A visitor to the show happened to be Roger Lee who was a student of my father's at Hornsea School of Art in the late 1960s. Roger found my blog post, made contact and the rest is.........lots of great comments from Roger on my blog - he's a sculptor so we have lots in common - plus an invite to visit him and his wife Carole at Priory House. 'You must come and see our pile' he said......
- and 'pile' it certainly is. He told me the place was a bit crazy, but I'm afraid that definitely didn't prepare us............!
Priory House is a massive edifice (9 bedrooms I think) mostly Georgian but with earlier and later elements and has huge grounds with many outbuildings. Roger and Carole use some of the downstairs rooms to host weddings and have a couple of bedrooms for B&B but that still leaves an awful lot of space for their respective studios, workshops, storage spaces, living quarters and above all - their MASSIVE, idiosyncratic, collection of STUFF!
You'll see what I mean...........
About the mannequins: it turned out that Carole had been a very successful fashion designer in the 70s and 80s creating wild and outlandish outfits for the rich and famous. Amazingly she still has an extensive archive of her dresses which, as well as adorning the fabulous (if rather spooky) models throughout the house, languish under polythene wraps in at least 3 of the bedrooms plus in one massive shed outside! Such a shame - we talked a lot about how she should exhibit this wonderful collection.
Purple stair carpet and turquoise walls are the least of it.........
This is the 'The Old Brewhouse' - an Elizabethan Long House next to the main building which they turned into a self contained apartment to rent out to wedding guests and weekenders. Slight change of theme here, maybe more Ann Hathaway meets Out of Africa & The Arabian Nights!
I really loved the mannequins - it was very strange coming across these silent, glamorous creatures lurking behind doors and curtains.
This is the room where you can get married - imagine! Beats the dusty old registry office.
I think this dress gives an idea of Carole's 'signature style' - a fantastical, imaginative creation with lots of different references - who'd think of teaming up a Marie Antoinette bodice with a flower-power tie-dyed skirt? Carole! And it doesn't stop there.
This is the kitchen (very utilitarian and functional as you can see!) and there's Roger kindly frying us eggs for breakfast on the Aga.
Plenty to look at while he grills the toast.
Carole in the 1980s. I was thrilled to find a photo album she had full of shots of their London shop in trendy Chelsea. You can see she had style...........................
(yes - one of my plaster busts - a thank you present)
And she definitely hasn't lost it - here she is at breakfast with her fabulous pink and magenta hair and glamorous Sunday morning (?) outfit.
Without a doubt, someone needs to rediscover Carole Lee ! Come on all you fashionistas out there....
One of the B&B rooms.
Another of Carole's original 80s cool outfits.
Hard to describe the massive number and variety of objets in Priory House - everywhere you look, even under the piano, there's another set piece or still life of unlikely things. But every arrangement is a carefully considered part of the whole.
The back of the house and terrace. Out of picture is a massive rambling garden, beautiful old brick walls and mature trees and many sheds and outbuildings which I'm looking forward to exploring next time! (No pressure Roger and Carole - but I'm afraid one visit to Priory House just whets the appetite!!) And many thanks for the hospitality so far.
But dear reader, don't wait for my next post, why not check out Priory House yourself for a B&B weekend and sample some extreme decor yourself!
Meanwhile check out Roger's sculpture, he mostly works in metal but his drawings are great too.
He's got a bit of scatter gun internet presence but here's some links to get going
(p.s big thanks to Adelina for making sense of this cacophony of images and getting them into some kind of order)