20 December 2009

the List~ in the tradition of Nancy Lancaster


tis the season, visions of plum pudding, decking the ballroom, etc. etc....

Nancy Lancaster is legend- it took this Virginian to create the English Country House style. Though Nancy Lancaster never considered herself a designer, she simply had the most innate sense of style. Notables were drawn to the lady's sensibility, her warmth and unselfconscious elan.

In reading through articles,revisiting books in working on several posts about Nancy Lancaster- I came across the reminiscences of her grandnieces Jane Churchill and Melissa Wyndham, both designers, who spent much time in her decorated rooms. "Everything was wonderful at Haseley Court. One Christmas there were many guests my sister and I slept in what was probably the worst bedroom, at the top of the house. Most people's worst bedrooms are bleak, but Aunt Nancy's was very, very pretty, with red-and -white-checked curtains and painted Regency furniture." Churchill said , "I can still smell her house today, recall the wonderful foods, things you didn't get anywhere else."

In her address book the elegant purveyors- Asprey, Smythson of Bond Street, Lobb, Fortnum & Mason, Floris and Ardens are noted as favourites. Her bookstore was G. Heywood Hill, 10 Curzon Street- still there- selling books. Another insight from Churchill."Nancy wouldn't buy a painting because it had a big name, more likely it was because the woman had a pretty dress- like her Elizabethan portraits with those great ruffs." Signatures of the Lancaster style- painted furniture,mixed woods, masses of flowers, luxe curtains, marbleized baseboards, needlework, period antiques &  "Pairs- She loved pairs" (Trudi Ballard of Colefax and Fowler).  Nancy Lancaster would add these essential ingredients for her interiors- "a wood fire, candlelight, and cut flowers."

What would Nancy see in today's stylish world of art, design, style & fashion that would strike her?

Follow along in the famed Lancaster English Country House style- Here is your list.

for the house

"A gentle mixture of furniture expresses life and continuity but it must be a judicious mixture that flows and mixes well. It is a bit like mixing a salade. (I am better at room than salads)."NL

for the desk


for the breakfast room

"I never think that sticking slavishly to one period is successful, a touch of nostalgia adds charm. One needs light and shade because if every piece is perfect the room becomes a museum and lifeless." NL

for the tea tray

for the card table

for every room

for scent

for the dog

"[I like] to preserve simplicity rather than over-polishing. Fashions are changeable. Taste is in realizing the essence of a place" NL

  for the wardrobe

for reading

"I've always liked a formal layout and informal planting," she explained. "First get the structure right, like the bones in a face, then plant it like a crowded shoe. If you have a strong layout, you can let the plants seed themselves all over the place. Haphazard, unexpected... I like to be surprised by a garden."NL

for the garden 

for wrapping it ALL

All ANTIQUES for IN THE HOUSE available at 1st Dibs, All leather goods for THE DESK available at Smythson and at Asprey, All antiques IN THE BREAKFAST ROOM available at Colefax and Fowler, china from Charlotte Moss & Pickard, "Nancy" pattern, for THE TEA TRAY, tea set from 1st dibs, tea,preserves from Fortnum and Mason, for THE CARD TABLE, Hermes cards from 1st dibs, for EVERY ROOM, Cire trudon, diptyqueAgraria Charlotte Moss(Virginia). for SCENT, Floris, for THE DOG- all items MUNGO & MAUD, except the wicker dog bed from Hound Hill Design, for the WARDROBE train case-Asprey, all clothes-net a porter, for READING, tomfolio.com, amazon.com, for THE GARDEN,roses from Heirloom Roses, for WRAPPING IT ALL, ELUM

for more reading:



  1. I'm happy to linger here for hours on end reading through your lovely blog for you my dear have exquisite taste. Even more than that and far more important as far as I'm concerned is your restraint. You hit all the right notes and it makes for a wonderful feast.
    Warm regards,

  2. What a wonderful post! And quite serendipitous- Lancaster's bio arrived in the post last week.

    Feast indeed!

  3. Loved this post. In fact, I loved it so much I must come back tomorrow morning and read it again (and maybe add a few items to my Christmas list...).

  4. I agree with what Simone said!!
    You write amazing posts! And I always learn a lot of it!
    This post is again marvellous! I did not know that Nancy was the aunt of Jane Churchill!

  5. What an elegant post. I am particularly struck by the yellow candle with black cameo! Divine and accessible elegance x

  6. What an elegant post. I am particularly struck by the yellow candle with black cameo! Divine and accessible elegance x

  7. What a fantastically indepth post! So enjoyed this! Now I want to go shopping, ha!

  8. Simone, I truly enjoy these types of posts-fun and fantasy with a bit of history noted. G

  9. Greet- the tie ins to JC are interesting. Glad you like the post

  10. VoiceTalk- you will really enjoy the bio. do follow up and let me know what you think after the read. G

  11. DMC, Stefan- do continue shopping! I may take up the practical good tweeds wardrobe of Nancy, perhaps it is time to pack away the tunics and caftans! G

  12. Helen, the Cire Trudon candle with the cameo is gorgeous-I am always intrigued with them-makes the candle most irresistible. G

  13. What a slam-dunk for the home team (American-English country home thing)! Beautifully, wistfully, done with great charm and imagination. NL reminds me I haven't had breakfast yet and why I am thinking about buttah on something elegant?

  14. Such gracious living! Nancy was quite a lady. Thank you for her list.

    Happy Holidays,


  15. I am a devotee.

    And that rain hat you found...perfect. I can see Nancy in that now.

  16. Pamela, that rain hat is priceless-it started me thinking...

    Marjorie- yes, she was quite something. I am enjoying working on some posts about her.

  17. Home- Love the Virginia connections, more on that another time. Hope your buttah melted into blissful clarity. G

  18. Gaye --

    Terrific post about one of my design heroes. That wing chair is absolutely perfect. Fun touch with the Elum paper at the end.

  19. I'm going to have to buy the greyhound book. Lola and Dolce would be mad otherwise!

  20. GT "oh my lord,who doesn't LOVE Nancy Lancaster!!!! One of many idols and adored rooms,especially her famouse yellow one" BBH

  21. I don't care what all those lovely ladies of the past did with their scads of money and inheritances..no one could ever create a home better than you.. You have such a marvelous talent.. No one does it better than you . I see though that she had whippets or greyhounds too..Is that part of the decor? as for me..I would still have a Springer spaniel.. I suppose that if I did I would have to get into plaids? oh well.. you say that one should always mix it up. Love you Dorothy

  22. What a gorgeous posting! How I hope that guests will remember my house with those kind of thoughts! I wonder what that attic bedroom looked like? What marvellous parties must have been held there!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  23. I 've been wanting to get to this in-depth... still catching up! Your selections are wonderful, as a worthy hier to NL - and all those pithy quotes! A real delight.

  24. This post has convinced me that my initial instinct was correct!

    There are far too many "genius" bloggers for me to enter.

    I will partake and enjoy......You are such a bunch of talented, articulate and knowledgeable people. I will sit back; and enjoy reading!

    Bravo to all of you! And, Thank you!!!

    How lucky we in the decorating community are to have all of you!

    As I said to my lovely assistant (who wants to be a decorator): Do not go to "school"; work as an assistant to a decorator whose work you admire; and read the "blogs"!

    She will have to be selective.....I could read the "great blogs" and spend 20 hours a day!

    I will not join.....I will read.......the "blogosphere"!!!


  25. This has to be the Queen of all blog posts!

    The Empress! Just beyond!

    Thank you!

  26. Penelope, I am sure you should start your own blog-You will love it and not to mention the camaraderie that goes along with it. I started mine very cautiously and now it is a part of my day. I didn't follow any statistics till almost a year. Each person should only want to find that unique voice to make it a success. I think you are already there in that regard. I do appreciate the kind words- though for me there is still only the one real Ruler of us all- and that is the AESTHETE, though now watching from a little distance, his presence is there and is the great original that makes blogs like mine and others you follow possible. Gaye



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