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The Dining Room

Crossing the cross-passage, making sure not to bump your head on the door frame, you will next enter the Dining Room.

Beautifully panelled in oak in the seventeenth century a supporting beam, with stop-chamfered ends, runs east to west across the ceiling.

This central area of the house was ‘the hall’, the main living space with a central hearth, open to the rafters, still blackened in the present attic. Behind the panelling on the north wall (exposed during restoration in the 1970s), is a hidden window frame, half downstairs, half upstairs.

Originally the panelling would have been plain wood but changes in fashion led to it being painted in the eighteenth century in a shade of green very closely matched by the present colour.

A selection of prints and oil paintings are displayed on the walls: four coloured etchings by Henry Bunbury showing episodes from Tristram Shandy; a painting by Charles Robert Leslie entitled Uncle Toby and the Widow Wadman showing Tristram’s uncle being beguiled (the popular image was reproduced in porcelain, on pot-lids and in parian ware); and a scene from A Sentimental Journey by Abraham Solomon showing Parson Yorick (alias Laurence Sterne) being fascinated by the beauty of the glove-seller’s ‘silken lashes’.

Shandy Hall dining room

Shandy Hall Dining Room

The window that looks out over the box-bordered front garden incorporates an installation by the artist Anne Vibeke Mou. Sterne’s novel contains a marbled page which he refers to as ‘the emblem of my work’. This page is marbled and the colours and shapes vary. Not one is duplicated; how it appears is determined by chance.

Using the ancient Japanese art of marbling known as Suminagashi (ink floating) to guide her, Anne has made an artwork of sixteen panes of glass in the heart of Shandy Hall. The landscape, the movement of the sun, the time of year, the time of day and the position of the viewer invite a continually shifting perspective as the patterns embedded in the window emerge and recede from one moment to the next.

The glass vitrine contains first editions of translations of Sterne’s writing into many languages, and some new works by contemporary artists and writers. Nancy Fouts made the model sailing vessel Without Sterne and Brian Dettmer treated copies of Tristram Shandy and A Sentimental Journey with astonishing skill.

The French ‘delft’ cow was brought back to England by Sterne, was sold at the auction of his property, and although broken, stayed in the same family, from whom it was purchased, repaired and donated to the Trust by the American academic, Professor Lewis Perry Curtis.

Shandy Hall vitrine

Dining Room vitrine