Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Snuff Box Debenham House

My husband and I, being good little Anglophiles, have a soft spot for British television.  Our most recent viewing experience was the exceedingly quirky yet somehow still amusing show, Snuff Box.  In the 5th episode of the show, there is a scene where one of the characters gets stuck in a loop making a toast.  My husband commented to me that he bet I loved the set where they were shooting.  I looked up from my laptop to see the most beautiful room covered in peacock blue gleaming tiles, with what looked to be a painted wildlife mural in Arts & Crafts style above it. 

The room was featured twice more in the show, and both times I thought to myself "where in the world IS that place??  It looks peacock theme, but I know it's not Whistler's Peacock Room".  It was driving me batty, so I turned to Facebook with two clips from it I could find on YouTube.

(NSFW, and strange too)

You can see the upstairs of the place at 4:40 in this video:

Well my friend Michael Kaiser successfully identified the place!  Debenham House, also known as Peacock House.  It's a private residence, Grade One listed, and recently was on the market for 29 million pounds.  As I searched Google for information on the place, I discovered that not just the inside was covered in those beautiful liquid blue tiles...the *outside* of the building is covered in blue and green tile as well!


"One of the most prominent features of the house are the colours and the use of Doulton Carraraware brickwork, of a pale terracotta shade, with panels of glazed brick and glazed tiles.  The tiles are wonderfully varied, depicting peacocks, eagles, flowers, galleons and mythical beasts. Many are reputed to have come from an assignment originally commissioned for the Czar's yacht Livadia, built in the late 1870's, and from another assignment for six P&O liners. The domed and galleried hall, at the centre of the house, includes brilliant mosaics, added later, to a design by Gaetano Meo and executed under his supervision. The design includes mythical and legendary figures, signs of the Zodiac and small portraits of the Debenhams and their children. The cupola itself is of leaves and branches in green and gold."  (via above link)

 Even the bathrooms here are art!


 A close-up on the outside of the building:

More close-ups.  Even the *chimney* is covered in tile.  So beautiful.

 Via link

Sadly this is the only real image I could find of the inside of the beautiful main room of the house.  I would love to see tons of detailed photos of all those mosaics and murals!!


 But at least here's a super short video someone took inside the space:

And a list of films you can watch to get a better look.

And an article about the place.


Bryony said...

Gosh! Where has this one been all my life!

Pegasus said...

Oh, you reminded me of my visit to William Morris gallery at Walthamstow quite a few years ago... Wonderful place!

Grace said...

I just wish it was easier to visit this haven in person! Bryony, if you ever get to see the outside at least, let me know!

Pegasus, I'd love to go there someday!

Sphinxvictorian said...

They also shot Scenes from Wings of the Dove there, I recognize the pillars on the balcony, Helena Bonham Carter and Alison Elliot stood next to them! And Linus Roache walks up the stairs towards those amazing blue tiles! Oh, why can I not win a huge lottery and buy that house!!!

Sphinxvictorian said...

And if I had looked at your list at the end of the post, I would have seen that you'd included WOTD in the list of films filmed there! Silly me! But, oh, I do love that house!

Grace said...

I still need to see Wings of the Dove!!

Anonymous said...

Just trying to find more pictures of Debenham House and your blog post came up. How amazing is this place - I love it!


Grace said...

Isn't it beautiful? I wish I could see it in person!

Anonymous said...

Cote Ouest has an article about Debenham House called 'Les Tresors insenses de Debenham House,' issue 60. Text by Lea Delpont and production and photography by Patrick Van Robaeys. The photographs can be seen here if you search 'Debenham'

Rajib Hossain said...

Very nice! Love the colors!
carrara mosaic tile

Grace said...

Me too Rajib.

Anonymous said...

I am also obsessed with this house. It started in 2001 when I was invited as a "plus one" to a New Years' Eve Party. We were told "it's a turquoise and blue house on Addison Road. you can't miss it". As we walked up the road from the tube station towards the house, we were walking past white, rendered houses. I wondered what sort of bohemians had painted this house a weird colour! Upon sight of it, my jaw dropped. It was surreal. I entered it via the covered walkway down one side of the building. It blew my mind. Every surface, every wall is a masterpiece. Inside and out. The fireplaces in almost every room, the tiled floor (black and white checkerboard at the entrance if I remember correctly), the walls... Even the brass pushplates on the heavy original wooden doors are inlaid with tiny enamelled butterly designs. The ornate plaster ceilings, the mosaic central hallway was where the party was - it was like being in a fairytale. I actually *slept* there, in the crypt (better than it sounds) that night, along with the other partygoers. And when I woke up the following morning, I hot-footed it to the nearest newsagents, and bought a crappy disposable camera so I could take pictures, as it was quite clearly an opportunity not to be missed. At the time of the party, it was undergoing restoration. the bathrooms had the original shower cages in them - they looked like instruments of torture! It's even more beautiful now it has been completed. I sincerely wish I could win something and buy it. I love it. I've never loved a building like it - because - well, what else can compare? The photos I took are the only way I can prove that I wasn't dreaming.

Grace said...

Anonymous, that is an INCREDIBLE story. Do you have the photographs you took anywhere online? Thank you for sharing. I hope maybe someday I'll get to see this amazing house in person too.

Anonymous said...

My first job in 1988 was working for a charity who at that time used this building as their headquarters. I had my interview there and remember sitting in that amazing central room. I went back several times over the following couple of years and remember dancing at a party in the same room. The amazing bathrooms and the showers were much talked about by the charity staff. I wish I'd taken photos now!