The Staircase Hall

The cast-iron balustrade of the staircase is one of the few Victorian features to have survived the sweeping changes to the interior of Buscot made by the 2nd Lord Faringdon in the 1930s. The stairs were, however, rearranged, and the vista between columns at first-floor level, through to the window on the east front, was contrived by Lord Faringdon’s architect, Geddes Hyslop.


The late eighteenth-century ceiling paintings came from the now-demolished Badger Hall, in Shropshire, remodelled in 1779–83 by James Wyatt. The owner, Isaac Hawkins Browne, MP, wanted the novel ‘mechanical paintings’ developed by Matthew Boulton, but by 1781 he had already given up the process and referred Browne to his best toucher-up, Joseph Barney of Wolverhampton. The latter was, however, used to working from originals by Antonio Zucchi, Angelica Kauffmann, G.B. Cipriani and Biagio Rebecca, and it is probably this last, who was Wyatt’s favourite decorative painter, or Barney’s mentor, Angelica, who supplied the compositions here.


The Wind Direction Indicator on the wall above the longcase clock in the Staircase Hall was originally driven by a series of rods and bevel gears by a weather vane on top of the roof. The system was probably installed during the early part of the last century. However, later alterations to the house resulted in the weather vane being disconnected.  The weather vane was restored in 1983 and is now used to drive an electronic position transmitter in the roof.  This sends a signal down a cable to a receiver, mounted behind the wind direction indicator, which turns the hand.  The hand then follows any change in direction of the weather vane.



The pictures are, for the most part, Italian. On the half-landing the St Jerome (No.41) is a good example of the work of Palma Giovane. But the outstanding picture is the Murillo, The Triumph of the Eucharist (No.70), originally from a set of four canvasses commissioned for the Church of Santa María la Blanca in Seville and removed during the Peninsular War (1808–14); two of the other pictures in the series now hang in the Prado, in Madrid, and the third is in the Louvre.


The small collection of Old Master drawings displayed at the far end of the staircase wall includes some sensitive studies of hands attributed to Lely (Nos.314–317), and a Pilgrim (No.312) and a Kneeling Youth (No.304), perhaps by the Bolognese brothers Agostino or Annibale Carracci and their cousin Lodovico respectively. Other drawings are attributed to Maratta (Nos.306 & 307) and Il Guercino (Nos.303 & 311). The group in the single frame includes three studies (No.318) by Rembrandt: The Angel seated on the Tomb; The Good Samaritan tending the Wounded Man (the more elaborate of the two drawings of this composition); and The Good Samaritan coming upon the Wounded Man. The large profile Head of a Woman (No.320) above the door to the Sitting Room is a fragment of a cartoon for the ceiling of the Barberini Palace in Rome by Pietro da Cortona.


Furniture and Sculpture

The furniture here includes an Empire side-table (a larger version of the pair in the Entrance Hall); four early nineteenth-century hall chairs with fan-shaped backs in the Biedemeier taste (probably Viennese and similar to furniture by Johann Nepomuk Geyr of c.1825–30); a walnut long-case clock decorated with floral marquetry, of early eighteenth-century date, by Nicolaes Nieuwenhoff of Amsterdam; and a mahogany card-table of about 1760. Standing on the early nineteenth-century bookcases nearby are several bronzes; they include Onslow Ford’s Linus (see the Lady Lever Gallery in Port Sunlight), the Borghese Warrior (after the antique marble at the Louvre) and a seated Mercury (after the original in the Museo Nazionale in Naples). The bronze horse is almost certainly the work of the Giambologna-Susini workshop in Florence.


The intriguing Gothic-panelled doors in cuban mahogany (on either side of the window overlooking the swimming-pool at the end of the passage) were brought by the 2nd Lord Faringdon from 18 Arlington Street, London, then the family’s London residence, which was demolished to make way for the Arlington House apartment block. The doors may originally have been among those made for Pomfret Castle, the Countess of Pomfret’s remarkable Perpendicular-Gothic-revival house, built under the direction of Sanderson Miller in 1757–9, now also demolished.


On the half-landing, the two giltwood satyr torchères, on tripod bases, date from the second quarter of the nineteenth century, no doubt inspired by seventeenth-century prototypes. The Spanish seventeenth-century walnut folding table at the top of the stairs supports a bronze of three male figures, entitled Au But by A. Boucher, exhibited at the Salon des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1886–7.


In the window recess the glass and bronze sculpture is called Three Graces, and has been created by a local Oxfordshire artist, Johannes von Stumm. It was commissioned by the Trustees of The Faringdon Collection.


Objets d'Art

On the Empire side-table are two recent acquisitions by Colin Reid; R1070 and R1192. They are made of cast optical glass overlaid on copper and were completed in 2002 and 2004 respectively. Beneath the table is a large Meissen covered vase in the Augustus Rex style. 

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