English Grandeur in San Francisco, Part Two

This is about Lady Sybil, not of the show Downton Abbey, but of the Houghton Hall of my last post.  This Lady Sybil rescued Houghton Hall from neglect. She and her brother Sir Philip Sassoon collected art which is now at the Hall, and some is now at the San Francisco exhibit.

Lady Sybil Sassoon (1894-1989), later Lady Chalmondeley, was a friend and supporter of statesmen and artists. She founded the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

The American painter John Singer Sargent painted this portrait of her as a gift when she married the heir to Houghton Hall, the Earl of Rocksavage, in 1913. Sargent gave her the cashmere shawl she wears and painted “To Sybil from her Friend, John S. Sargent.”

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Her husband inherited Houghton Hall six years later and it was Lady Sybil’s home for the next seventy years, and she restored it to its former glory.

Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England
Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England © Copyright dennis smith

Last week, I posted photos from San Francisco’s Legion of Honor’s current exhibit Houghton Hall. Here’s a photo of one more room in the exhibit, the gallery with artifacts from Houghton Hall’s Tapestry Dressing Room.

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 Lady Sybil wore this robe, train and dress at the coronation of George IV in 1937. A peer’s rank dictates the type of ceremonial dress. Her father-in-law, the 4th Marquess of Chalmondeley, had the role of Lord Great Chamberlain at an earlier coronation (Edward VII in 1902) and wore the uniform above, including this hat.

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Here is the website of Houghton Hall, a page showing its splendid rooms. Click on the thumbnail photos to enlarge them. The exhibit at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor closes January 18, 2015.

 

Author: Pamela Tartaglio

Fiction writer, blogger and a past president of Women Writing the West.

2 thoughts on “English Grandeur in San Francisco, Part Two”

  1. It must have taken hours to get dressed for a single event and some fortitude to wear all the elegance for any length of time. What a tremendous responsibility to inherit so much and have society expect you to maintain it. And the expense must even today be budget busting.

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    1. Really expensive! Later, Houghton Hall had to open to the public to pay for expenses, and Lady Sybil welcomed paying visitors with grace, her grandson writes. To pay taxes, a few artifacts were recently exchanged for taxes and are at Houghton as before, but no longer owned by the family. I think they are now owned by Victoria and Albert museum, not the government.

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