Print rooms

At Syon House, as reported last week, there is a room called ‘the print room’.  However, at Syon the ‘print room’ was redecorated in the 1870s and today retains only the name.  Instead, the room now houses family portraits.

This made me think back to Stratfield Saye – Stratfield Saye still has its print room.

But what is a print room?

Print rooms were popular from the mid 18th until the early 19th century.

Creating a print room was a fast and cheaper way to cover (dodgy) plaster walls.

Wallpaper was very expensive.

The look was relatively easy to recreate: paste walls from floor to ceiling with old prints and engravings in an orderly fashion and add a coat of varnish for longevity.

Stratfield Saye has a very good print room (of mainly Shakespearean scenes) although it does make what could be a light and airy room overlooking the countryside dark and imposing.  The long narrow room was added to the rear of the house by Lord Rivers in about 1745, with prints edged in gold beading being added around 1795.  The 1st Duke of Wellington moved in circa 1818 and was so taken with the style of the print room that during his ownership he decorated a few other rooms at Stratfield Saye in the same fashion.

Someone else on our guided tour of Stratfield Saye commented how nowadays homeowners would be itching to open up the windows in that long room, insert a lintel and create fold-back glass doors out onto the terrace to join the inside seamlessly with the outside.  Given Stratfied Saye’s squat nature, that wouldn’t be a bad idea (were it not for planning constraints).

With changes in taste, original early Print Rooms are one of those fashions that for the large part have been lost and currently I can’t think I’ve seen another in situ in a major room in any of the 200+ country houses that I’ve visited to date, other than at Stratfield Saye.  I’ll keep looking though.

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7 thoughts on “Print rooms

  1. Castletown House outside Dublin. All original 18 c print room. Irish Georgian Society sells reproduction of the framing trim used in this room. Can be used with lg. & sm prints. Try Dover Books reproduction of Piranesi prints- $15 for @ 40 lg prints. Looks fantastic!

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