Lypiatt Park: Lynn Chadwick's Gothic Mansion

Guest Post from Wary Meyers

Much of our inspiration comes from books and magazines, and because Linda and I are out yard saling and flea marketing just about every weekend, the overwhelming majority of that material is not very recent, and our bookshelf is a rainbow of aged, oxidized, antique whites. This post was going to be all about white, but as we were looking at the shelves we thought about all the information in those pages and how little of it can be found on the internet, since in order to be Googled, someone has had to have scanned it, typed it out, and html'd it — so we thought we'd share at least a bit of one favorite article. From Vogue magazine, August 1st 1963, an article titled "Castle Tomorrow" about the fantastic British sculptor Lynn Chadwick's sprawling Gothic mansion of Lypiatt Park, written by the great art critic John Russell, and photographed by the legendary Lord Snowdon and Norman Parkinson.

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Lynn Chadwick worked as an architectural draftsman before serving as a pilot in World War II, after which he began designing furniture, textiles, and architectural projects. He also made abstract kinetic mobiles, then soon just stationary kinetic sculpture, with some kind of streamlined or pointed element to them, likely based on his experience as a pilot.

Chadwick won the Venice Bienniale award for sculpture in 1956, which brought him international fame and enormous financial success. He soon after bought the "cavernous, evil-smelling, dilapidated" Gothic Castle Lypiatt Park and proceeded to refurbish it, room by room.

The photo captions from the Vogue article Castle Tomorrow:

1 Just a portion of one of Wary Meyers' bookshelves.

2 The Dining Room, one of sixteen rooms in which the Chadwicks now live. On the heated floating raft: Lynn Chadwick and one of his two daughters, Sarah, plus a Chadwick Lion, a Chadwick Beast, and an absolute absence of what had been the room's ancient pomposities. Above: A rather formidable view of Lypiatt Park.

3 Opposite page: In a sunwashed Gothic corridor at Lypiatt, where space that was once just space has taken on fresh beauty, a Chadwick sculpture, two Chadwick children.
Left, top: Lynn Chadwick, who was, not incidentally, trained young as an architect- in his studio at Lypiatt.
Left, centre: The kitchen, with its cantilevered stove, its natural pine cupboards. The carved design on the canopy was taken from the Chadwick's Chinese Chippendale bed.
Left, below centre: Frances Chadwick, a young woman whose looks reflect her clean imagination, her vitality.
Left: A cast terrazzo basin designed by Lynn Chadwick: simple, forthright, one of the details that helps to focus the eye in the vast but newly controlled spaces of Lypiatt.

4 Left: Two small Chadwicks tricycle around Lypiatt's great vaulted gallery, a place where, as Lynn Chadwick said, "the Victorians used to walk after lunch, getting up an appetite for dinner" In those days, the gallery was dark, lined with tables and busts, oppressively narrowed by clutter; now, like each of the rooms that the Chadwicks have colonized, it is airy, whitewashed, patterned with shadow and stains of amethyst and emerald glass; a place where Chadwick's spikily beautiful sculpture is oddly but exactly at home.

5 The Chadwicks' own bedroom, above, is dominated by a zebra skin rug, an immense black-and-gold four-poster bed. In the bathroom off that bedroom, right a bath is scooped directly into the heated terrazzo floor. (The little splashers: Sarah and Sophie Chadwick). The heated floor, incidentally, is typical of the Chadwick treatment: throughout the house, electric coils in vital places-certain floors, the dining room raft, the terrazzo dining table-help solve that biggest of all problems in any old English house, heating. Because the bath involves a shower spraying free in the room, a shower-taker can look not only all around the room but out the window, down the valley, filled with beeches and laid out like a park. Of that Chadwick said: "Who could use a shower curtain after seeing Psycho?"

Images: Wary Meyers, Lord Snowdon and Norman Parkinson/Vogue

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John and Linda Meyers are otherwise known as Wary Meyers Decorative Arts, which focuses on interior design, object design, painting, illustration, and soft sculpture (coming soon). Their new book, Wary Meyers' Tossed & Found: Unconventional Design from Cast-offs is a DIY trip through their world of yard saling and resourceful repurposing. Out now from Stewart, Tabori, and Chang.

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