There are a lot of cultured people living in Marlborough. Half of them can even spell the name of their home town. But this culture, this vast knowledge of art and which regional wine is most delectable with their Waitrose Essential Slab Of Expensive Meat, this exacting other-worldy insight into just the right shade of red trousers to wear, is external. There is only one museum in Marlborough, the Merchant House. Matthew and I had the expensive pleasure of visiting it with his delightful friend Amber.
Thomas Bayly, a silk mercer and prominent Marlborough citizen (twice Mayor), ran his business and brought up his family at what is now 132/3 High Street in a time of great change both locally and nationally.
In 1642 one of the earliest Civil War battles took place in the heart of the town and Marlborough gained a reputation for its firm commitment to the parliamentary cause. Eleven years later, in 1653, the town was destroyed in a huge fire necessitating a rebuild of which the Merchant’s House was part. Merchant House
Now I won’t spoil too much about this visit. So I shall keep to my highlights. During this guided tour one can see most areas of this house which has been renovated wonderful. The first area of curiosity for me was the Curiosity Room, aptly named. Here Thomas Bayly collected rare items to show off his wealth. These have all been gathered in one room for one reason or another.
This view of the bedroom highlights the wonderful architecture of this house. Anyone who has the good sense to read this blog will know that I am a sucker for a wooden beam. This room had more than this beaming boy could shake a beam at. Too much? Who cares!
For my final highlight is the recreated wallpaper in the bedchamber. Since visiting the Wallace Collection, I have had a particular appreciation of rich wallpaper. This one has been recreated in the style of the period. Interestingly, the Merchant didn’t have nice rich colourful wallpaper, this was painted on at the time also. Delusions of Grandeur if ever I saw it.
The Merchant House is full of delightful facts and follies. I hope you will go there if you are in Marlborough. One can learn a lot about the history of the town as well as get an insight into the lifestyle of its inhabitants.