Grayson Perry’s Tapestry… and why it is at Frampton Court
A message from Rollo and Janie Clifford, of Frampton Court:
It is a happy coincidence that while our wonderful old C18th tapestry is undergoing essential conservation, Grayson Perry is kindly lending us his fantastic tapestry ‘The Upper Class at Bay’.
Frampton Court’s tapestry, woven in wool and silk especially for the house by Huguenot refugees, usually takes up an entire wall in one of the bedrooms and has hung there since the house was completed in 1733. After nearly 300 years hanging from wooden stretchers and with damage also caused by smoke from coal fires, especially in C19th, it is time for us to give the tapestry some much needed care and attention. The tapestry will be sent to Belgium for specialist cleaning and then to Textile Conservation in Bristol for careful repair and backing before returning to Frampton. Read more about Frampton's Tapestry here.
In 2012 Grayson Perry stayed in the Tapestry Room at the Court while researching for his three-part series for Channel 4 ‘All in the best possible taste with Grayson Perry’, where he explored the culture and taste of different classes - in his words, "why people buy the things they do, wear the things they wear and what they are trying to say about themselves when they make these choices". He recorded his impressions and experiences of working, middle and upper class taste in the programmes, weaving together the strands of the classes and characters he met in preparation for making six large tapestries ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’.
The six tapestries are loosely based on Hogarth's series of paintings ‘A Rake's Progress’ with also a distinct nod to early Renaissance religious iconography. They tell the story of Tim Rakewell, a semi-autobiographical tale of class mobility, as he develops from infancy through youth and middle years to untimely death in a car park.
The fifth tapestry is entitled ‘The Upper Class at Bay’. It depicts Tim watching with horror as the hounds of Tax, Upkeep, Change and Fuel Bills drag down an old aristocratic stag on his lawn. There are also protesters squatting on Tim's lawn, urging him to pay his taxes. Looking down towards the setting sun you can see Frampton Court nestling serenely in the meadows beyond and in the foreground, the Orangery. If you look carefully you will see Janie's Morris Traveller leaving Tim's house and you may think the stag's face is familiar, although as Grayson said, "any resemblance is purely coincidental!”
This is a marvellous opportunity for our tapestry to be given the conservation work it so badly needs, Grayson has been enormously supportive and generous lending us his tapestry which we hope will in turn give us the opportunity to help fund the conservation work. We hope you will also feel generous and help us raise the £10,000 it will cost to undertake the restoration of our tapestry so it can be returned safely to hang at the Court for a further 300 years.
If you would like to donate to our Tapestry Restoration fund, please contact our House Managers, Polly & Craig, using the details provided below - or else post a cheque for your chosen amount, made out to 'Frampton Court Estate Farms',
to Polly Dugdale at: Frampton Court, The Green, Frampton on Severn, Glos. GL2 7EX.
Please write "Tapestry Donation" on the back of your cheque.
N.B. any donations received will only be used towards the tapestry restoration.
Opportunities to see Grayson Perry's tapestry at Frampton Court:
To celebrate having Perry’s tapestry in place, Frampton Court will be hosting a limited number of exclusive soirées and pre-lunch sessions at The Court itself. Guests are invited to purchase tickets to attend the events, where they will be served sparkling wine and Craig's delicious homemade canapés, to a live musical accompaniment, in the stunning panelled hall. Guests will have a chance to explore the other beautiful principal rooms of the house, as well as see Grayson Perry’s tapestry in one of the places that inspired it. Tickets should be booked in advance and cost £30 per person:
- Soirées to take place 6.30pm – 8pm, on 3rd March and 24th March
- Pre-lunch session to take place 12pm – 1.30pm, on 5th March
Tickets are limited and booking in advance is required for all events.
For bookings, please contact our House Managers, Polly & Craig, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone 01452 740267.
With many thanks for your interest,
Rollo and Janie Clifford