The Red Lodge Museum is tucked away on Park Row, a side street branching from the popular shopping and socialising destination of Park Street in Bristol. From the outside it looks fairly unassuming, but as soon as you enter through the small front door and descend the many stone steps into the building, it's clear that this is a very special place.
The impressive central staircase, hung with historic paintings and glowing chandeliers, leads upstairs to the Great Oak Room, an almost untouched Tudor room with carved, oak panelled walls. There is a huge and striking carved fireplace, and the ceiling is moulded with curved patterns.
The detail and craftsmanship in the carving is really quite incredible. So few of these rooms survive today, especially of this standard, and to be able to visit one for free is wonderful.
Outside, the shapes of the re-created Tudor knot garden echoed the moulding on the ceiling. The garden was sadly closed on the day I visited, but still made for a lovely view.
Another door led into a smaller, simpler oak panelled room, with an ornately carved bed. The drapes and bedding had been reproduced from original Tudor designs.
The Red Lodge was originally built in 1579 as a guest host and party venue for the now demolished Great House (on the site where the Colston Hall now stands). Over the years it passed through many owners and tenants, was extended and refurbished, and used for various purposes from a home, to a dissection theatre, to a Victorian reform school, to a meeting place for the Bristol Savages artists society (who still meet in a specially built room in the Red Lodge grounds). As a result it has several different architectural and decorative styles throughout the building, with several Georgian rooms in addition to the Tudor rooms.
One of the Georgian Rooms is the Print Room, which is part of the 18th century extension. The fireplace in this room has wonderful painted tiles depicting different scenes, including this goat tile which I loved! It has really captured the cheeky look goats have. This room also contained some beautiful examples of marquetry furniture and an unusual "Japanned" clock.
The downstairs of the house is also decorated in the 18th century style, and this gorgeous piece of walnut furniture caught my eye. I thought it was very elegant.
This amazing fireplace was filled with detailed Delft tiles, which were very fashionable at the time.
A rather bizarre chandelier hung overhead, decorated with a large bird which was either a turkey or a peacock-I wasn't quite sure.
Although this wasn't my first visit to the Red Lodge I am always dazzled by it, and this was a really enjoyable trip. I was especially impressed that the museum steward had noticed that I was looking at a lot of the marquetry pieces, and took the time to point out a painting which had been painted over an inlaid wooden panel. Although the Red Lodge is quite small there is plenty to see, and entry is free -although donations are appreciated and help keep this beautiful building open to the public. I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are in the Bristol area!
You can find out more on the Red Lodge website- http://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/red-lodge-museum/