Yes, as reported by Neil Callanan in The Sunday Business Post at the time.
Many thanks for the pictures, Rusty. I'm beginning to wonder if there's a cantilevered staircase left in the capital that hasn't endured drastic structural interventions in the past few years. What a crying shame. And what a bizarre sight. At least the bold Soane red distracts somewhat from the eerie liquorice contraption.
The staircase of Aldborough is nonetheless distinctly mean, with plain Portland steps and three stark, wrought iron balusters per tread. Apparently the balustrade was intended to be adorned with brass dressings, which would have been quite the sight. Christine Casey recounts the dry observations of the then Vicereine, Lady Hardwicke, on her visit to the house, presumably around 1801, regarding the preposterous series of wall paintings which adorned the staircase walls. She noted:
“The staircase is richly adorned with paintings. Let one be in your idea a model for the rest. Imagine a large panel occupied by the ‘Triumph of Amphitrite’ personified by Lady Aldborough in a riding habit with Minerva’s helmet, sitting on the knee of Lord Aldborough in a complete suit of regimentals, Neptune having politiely resigned his seat in the car to his Lordship, and contenting himself with the office of coachman to the six well fed tritons. The whole corps of sea-nymphs attend the car in the dress of Nereids! But each, instead of a vocal shell, bears in her hand a medallion with the picture (the head and shoulders as large as life)of an admiral’s wigs, bald-heads, crops etc. Think of a whole mansion decorated this way.”
From Rusty’s pictures, it is heartening to see how many of the interior fittings still survive. From some accounts you get the impression that nothing is left. It is to be expected that furnishings, wall paintings, the Bossi chimneypieces, mirrored shuttering and its ilk would have long vanished given the various institutional uses the house was put to. It’s good to see that most joinery, plasterwork and some chimneypieces remain. The Library seems almost intact. Loving the gas lamps!
Poor old Aldborough today. That invasive 19th century gate lodge does not do it any favours.
Only one wing, that of the theatre, survives.
The western wing that housed the chapel has been demolished, while its arm appears to have been refaced minus its stone dressings. The ground floor of the house is stern and unforgiving. The porch almost looks like an afterthought, with no responding order of pilasters on the walls and rather gauche rustication as the setting for the main entrance. Not a good start.
The theatre arm. Again, a crude contrast between the delicate detailing and luxurious Portland stone with the harsh expression of the main house, further exacerbated by the painted render walls.
This is the rear of the opposing wing with service accommodation and passages concealed behind.
A head on view. There really is no reconciling of that gawky first floor is there?
The remarkably skinny windows. All sashes are 19th or early 20th century replacements, probably dating from when the house was occupied by Posts and Telegraphs.
The much embellished Stratford coat of arms to the pediment is in superb condition, presumably as it is north facing.