Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Georgian House in Bristol

About a week ago I took Jill to visit the Georgian House Museum on Great George Street, just off Park Street in Bristol. Jill is avid about all things Georgian, especially if related to Jane Austen or gives an insight to the period in which Austen lived. She said she preferred this house to the one in Bath - No 1 Royal Crescent. There are differences, such as the museum in Bristol is free whereas No 1 Royal Crescent has an admission fee. I think both are excellent. I can see some differences due to a fee being charged for the Georgian house in Bath. They can afford to finance a shop, guides and so on. The lower amount of funding for the house in Bristol is apparent if you know what to look for, or rather to look for what is missing in terms of staff, brochures, a shop and so on. Even so, a lot of care has gone into making the Georgian House in Bristol well worth a visit (or more than one).

One point to mention is how easy it is to miss the correct street. On a prior visit to Bristol, Jill and I were directed to the wrong George Street. This time, before setting off, I made a point of using Google Earth to be absolutely sure of finding the place when we arrived in Bristol.

The man who had the house built was John Pinney. Here is a portrait of him in one of the rooms. Pinney was a wealthy slave plantation owner and the house has a room dedicated to the subject of slavery during the Georgian period and its connection to Bristol. It is not often that I see a house museum highlight, in any way whatsoever, the human cost that made the original owner wealthy enough to afford such a house. Even when a house was built by someone who had no direct connection with slavery, it was still a period when William Blake justifiably wrote of some working conditions in Britain as being within ‘Dark Satanic Mills.’

The house has on the walls, besides portraits of Pinney, paintings from the Georgian period including one by a relation of Sir Joshua Reynolds. In the dining area is one that has a detail that may be of interest to magic historians. It is of three children and one is building a house of cards. Look carefully at the cards and you will see that the backs of the cards are blank and the corners are square and not rounded. Similar cards are on display on a card table in another room. Packs of cards which are reproductions of those from around that period can be bought from The Card Collection. I bought a deck for Jill last year. What is interesting from a conjuring point of view is how very different the physical quality of the cards are from modern day ones and how much that affects using sleight of hand.

I could find no information as to who the artist was; the style reminds me of Gainsborough but if it was him the museum would have had a note somewhere stating that detail. If anyone can let me know who the artist is I would appreciate it.

The museum has four floors to explore and overall it is very atmospheric, informative and enjoyable.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are not allowed on this blog. If your full name is not submitted as well as your comment, the comment will not be published. Those that submit via means which only give a forename or nickname will not be published.