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Red Lodge

Now a museum. A remarkable late Elizabethan lodge, c.1577-85, with exceptional interiors. The site belonged to a 13th century Carmelite foundation. In 1568 Sir John Young acquired it, and quickly built a mansion, (demolished for Colston Hall, 1863). There he entertained Queen Elizabeth in 1574, and was knighted during her stay. Red Lodge was Young’s garden lodge, of Brandon Hill sandstone originally rendered and painted deep red, with an open arched loggia to the garden – an Italian Renaissance idea. It became an independent dwelling by 1595. In the 17th century rooms were added around the stair turret, all altered again in an extensive updating c.1720-30. Gables were replaced by hipped roofs with eaves cornice, long sash windows installed and the north side remodelled around a new staircase. The loggia was glazed in to extend the ground floor. In the Reception Room is a 18th century bolection moulded chimneypiece. The parlour has a 16th century ribbed and moulded ceiling and chimneypiece with cambered opening and scroll patterned frieze. The New Oak Room contains a fireplace from Ashley Manor and panelling from St. Michael’s rectory (q.v.) nearby. By chance the cornice is virtually identical to that in the Great Oak Room, presumably by the same maker. The nobly proportioned oak staircase has three twisted balusters per tread and Ionic column newels.

But the tour de force is the first floor best chamber, called the Great Oak Room. Almost unaltered, it is among the most elaborate English interiors of its date. Entry is via a timber inner porch: others were at, e.g., Montacute House. It was believed to be a later addition but the construction suggests not, in any case Young’s arms place it before 1589. Shell headed doors are framed by paired Composite columns. The entablature has a frieze of winged beasts and foliage. Above is a second tier, even richer, with paired terms instead of columns. Its cornice does not match the rest of the room. On this tier are the arms of Young and his wife, projecting so far they seem to float over the structure. Not an inch escapes embellishment. The room is fully panelled, with an arcaded dado below smaller arch-headed panels and an enriched modillion cornice. Another geometric ribbed ceiling, with five pendants, vase and foliage motifs, winged cherubs, pomegranates etc., and dim Gothic remembrances in ogee trefoils. Dominating all is the only major Bristol school chimneypiece still in situ. It is very big and high, of richly carved limestone, with alabaster panels depicting Young’s arms and panels of Hope, Faith, Justice and Prudence. The strapwork cartouche in the overmantel and the paired terms are copied from mid 16th century prints by Jan Vredeman de Vries.

In Red Lodge gardens is the barn-like WIGWAM, by C.F.W. Dening c.1920. Home of the Savages art society. Fittings include two chimneypieces, one of 1682 from the Goat in Armour Inn, with open segmental pediment and seated figures, but still a cambered fire-opening. The other, marked 16 RMS 74, came from the house of Richard Stubbs, a wine merchant of St. Michael’s. The overmantel has arabesques, vine trails and tapering Jacobean pilasters, very archaic for that date.

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