Based on research by Dr Mark Valenzuela, Associate Professor/Mechanical & Civil Engineering, University of Evansville
Whilst the exterior, the Great Hall, and the State Dining Room employ a Jacobethan style, the Long Gallery, the Gold Room, the Morning Room, and to some extent the Drawing Room are executed in the style of Louis XIV (Quatorze). In his account of his visit of Harlaxton Manor in 1840, J C Loudon writes that Gregory Gregory’s original intent was to use the style of James I and employing Anthony Salvin to carry out a vision formed through his own study of architecture and visits to country houses of that era. Loudon also lists some of the many books that would have been found in Gregory’s library at Hungerton Hall.
Loudon only mentions that the Long Gallery is to be a central feature:
“largest room will be a gallery library, 100 ft. long, 24 ft. wide, and 18 ft. high; one end of which will look into a conservatory, 90 ft. long, and 26 ft. wide.”
Later accounts by Burke (1853) indicate Gregory Gregory
“selected for the exterior and interior, the two epochs which admit of the most rich and sumptuous display of ornament – viz., the times of James I. of England, and Louis XIV of France. It would seem to be a mansion which had been built at the former period, and of which the interior decorations and furnishing had been delayed until the latter. In this selection, it is probable that Mr. Gregory was in some measure determined by the vast stores of beautiful objects of old French virtu [fine objects of art] which he had collected in Paris.”
So not only had he an academic knowledge of French style, he must have had first-hand familiarity with it and possessed objects that exemplified that style. Indeed, it is said that Gregory Gregory, before he came into possession of Harlaxton in 1822, was attached to some “of our embassies abroad” and probably collected many of these works after the peace of 1815.
In addition to the Long Gallery, Burke also notes that the
“breakfast-room and small drawing room, and private sitting room… are fitted up as complete specimens of the time of Louis XIV.”
Indeed close inspection of the hardware for the large shutters in both the Drawing Room and the Morning Room reveal iconography often associated with Louis XIV. The Gregory heirlooms were catalogued by Christies auction house in 1878 and consisted of
“pictures, sculptures, tapestry, silver plate, Old French decorative of the time of Louis XIII, XIV, XV and XVI.”
So while the term Louis Quatorze is used, it seemed to be used rather indiscriminately as an umbrella term for styles that ranged from French Baroque to Rococo to Neo-classical.
Understanding Gregory Gregory’s stylistic intent helps to explain some of the choices that he (and/or his architect by this time, William Burn) made in the Long Gallery. For example, Gregory’s presence seems to be missing in this room: there is no evidence of the shield associated with the Gregory family. Rather, his presence is felt in other ways. First, one could interpret the ceiling plaster work as representative of the double G monogram, mirroring the double L insignia favoured by Louis XIV, an example of which can be seen on the shutter handles in the Drawing Room. Later inhabitants of the Manor, John Sherwin Gregory and his wife Catherine, had their initials placed in two corners of the ceiling either side of the window overlooking the front forecourt.
The family is also present in the boiserie or carving panelling on the walls, through the use of the coat of arms of the De Ligne family, more properly the De Ligne that descended from the union of Jean De Ligne and Marguerite D’Aremberg.