Dalemain is 35 minutes from the M6, its beautiful 1740s pink façade sitting over a much earlier mediaeval house built by Edward Hasell, son of the original family member who purchased this property in the late 17th century, Sir Edward Hasell.
Sir Edward was an orphan and sent to live with his cousin who was a bishop. He made his way as a lawyer and being the favourite of his uncle, was recommended to a Lady Anne Clifford to assist her as her chief administrative officer. Lady Anne Clifford had inherited her estates at the age of 53 following her father having a willed his estates to his brother ignoring the entail. In Lady Anne’s will the orphan received enough to buy the lands at Dalemain, his son deciding to extend in the 1740s.
One enters through a square hall painted deep crimson.
In the hall there is a large oil of Italy from the grand tour, found by a husband by marriage in another family house, rolled up in the attic, presumably because it was too large. It was put on the walls at Dalemain.
The cantilevered staircase was propped up by a wooden strut at the beginning of the 20th century because the staircase’s integrity was doubted – it is compromised where it crosses a window piercing and also by the fact that it is not a continuous state: there are landings at two corner which are not self-supporting by their insertion into the wall.
Next is the Chinese room which has paper from the 1750s – only one of two examples of such a wallpaper (the other at Felbrigg). The price was £12, purchased from London, and this included some additional pieces – shapes that could be cut out and pasted over the joints between the wallpaper. The wallpaper is much faded but of course extremely impressive and worth saving at any cost.
There is a lot of late 17th century and early 18th century furniture in the room and a number of copies of Chippendale design, including a flat-pack a wooden fireplace and some chairs. There is also a rosewood cabinet purchased at considerable cost, originally with candle sconces on the inside of the mirrored interiors of the doors, to reflect light onto the person writing desk.
Next a dining room with a large table and a pair of Adam mirrors (the nicest thing in the house), bought from the Scottish branch of the family to this house. Also a carpet from Italy made in 1892 by prisoners.
Through the corridors leading into the earlier part of the house is an exhibition on the railway as an ancestor was heavily involved in the construction of the Western North Western Railway – he was involved in diplomacy and the negotiations with local land owners who were sceptical of a noisy contraption going across their land; not dissimilar to current concerns about Hs2.
Up the steps into the peel tower passed an exhibition of World War I memorabilia to Tudor bedrooms with original panelling, them down the steps into a marmalade exhibition room. Look out for Mrs Mouse’s house which is a cut into the stair. The lights were on. Somebody has a sense of humour.
We had cake and tea in the mediaeval cafe which is in the original part of the house and then we walked around the gardens. The gardens were HHA Garden of the Year, but I was unsure why. Perhaps the judges went to nearby Hutton in the Forest and got confused over the two?
When visited: April 2014