The Ballroom and Drawing-Room
On 7th November 1905, Sir James and Lady Miller gave their first and only ball at
Manderston to celebrate the completion of their new house. It was a sumptuous occasion. Antique tapestries decorated the ballroom, drawing-room and the marquees on the terrace.
In these interconnecting rooms, Adam would have used the filigree borders to outline the chimney pieces, but Kinross ran friezes all round the cornice, dado rail and down the corners. The opulence of Louis XVI was successfully married with the restrained Adam style.
Charles Mellier and Co., the fashionable firm of decorators, who had already furnished the Millers’ London home in Grosvenor Square, supplied furniture to be grouped around the walls in a formal Georgian style. Scott Morton and Co., the Edinburgh cabinet-makers, furnished the rest of the house with details
recorded in their filing books. The decoration was in primrose and white, Sir James’s racing colours.
The walls of the ballroom are hung with silk embossed with velvet and the curtains are woven in gold and silver thread. The rich materials have lasted well thanks to careful protection. These two rooms have rarely seen the light of day and until about 1960, the walls were covered and the curtains put into bags, when the rooms were not in use.
The central ceiling panel painted, signed and dated by Robert Hope in 1905, represents the sun god Apollo with Cupids: the long panels depict Venus, goddess
of love, in different scenes and the corner roundels are filled with cherubs. Above the fireplace is a portrait of Nancye Bailie, Lord Palmer’s grandmother, painted by G. Hillyard Swinstead, when she came to Manderston as a bride in 1921. The porcelain on the mantelpiece is nineteenth-century Meissen; on the opposite wall is a painting by Norman Heppel of Eleanor Bailie, the pianist and aunt of Lord Palmer. The chandeliers are of Italian crystal.
The drawing-room is reached by two sets of beautifully made double doors. Behind them is another of Manderston’s secret places, a hidden passage, which leads on to a false loggia which, in turn, leads to the gardens.
The drawing-room is the first of three rooms which have survived from the earlier Georgian house. The only structural alteration made in the drawing-room was to extend the shape of the bay by the double doors. It was completely redecorated in the sumptuous style of the house. Once again, the materials are of the highest available quality, white silk for the curtains, bordered with turquoise, and white silk brocade for the walls.
The embroidered seats on the three Louis XVI chairs in front of the fireplace were worked by Lord Palmer’s great-grandmother, Amy. His grandmother, Nancye Bailie, worked the exquisite embroidery on corded silk on the four chairs opposite the fireplace during the 1939–1945 war years. The ceiling colours are the same as those chosen by Adam for the library ceiling at eighteenth-century Mellerstain, the nearest Adam mansion to Manderston.
The former Ante-Room to the Drawing-Room was reduced to a passage when the organ was installed. The Regency style cupboard cost the large sum of £2,400 in 1905, though, unlike most furniture, it has not gained in value and is perhaps worth no more than that amount today.
The costume jewellery in the ormolu mounted kidney-shaped display cabinet belonged to Lady Miller, who loved giving fancy dress soireés – when she would
often dress as the Czarina of Russia.
This completely circular room has a superb view over the lake and woodland garden, reaching as far as the Cheviot Hills on a clear day, making this feminine room one of the most delightful. In it, something of the sense of the old house survives, and the ceiling and chimneypiece are probably original. The fact that no one is quite sure, says much for the quality of Kinross’s work. Yet another concealed door leads from the niche in the morning-room to the tea-room.
Inspired by the eighteenth-century fashion for ‘chinoiserie’, this room is furnished with lacquered cabinets, Chinese Chippendale chairs and a long case clock and screen in the same style. Family portraits hang on the walls. A charming family group by Charles Lutyens – father of the famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens – shows Sir James Miller and his sisters and brother gathered around a dog called ‘Lion’ whose birthday it was.
The figure of ‘Lion’ was painted by Sir Edwin Landseer. Sir James Miller is the child on the left standing by his pram. Above the cabinet containing Russian figures made by Gardner, Moscow, is a portrait of Sir James dressed in his uniform as a Captain in the 14th Hussars in which he fought the Boers in South Africa, painted by Cumming.