May 3, 2009

Ladew, Part II

The building of Pleasant Valley Farm, the manor house at Ladew Gardens spans the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. It started out as a small four room house, circa 1747. The center and main section was added in the mid-1800s.
Harvey Ladew added the south and east wings in the 1930’s, mainly to accommodate an oval partners desk he’d purchased in London. The library, where the desk is located, is listed in books of that period as one of the 100 most beautiful rooms in America. Although the room (the 20th C. section at the top of the illustration and the image directly below) appears square on the outside, it’s oval inside. Hidden doors reveal small closets and a passageway.
The front of the house is rather plain, but the three windows on the top floor are unusual in that their panes form a brick-work pattern.
This is the view from another angle. The tent where the antiques dealers were located was on the circular forecourt of the house.
I took some pictures inside the house, because no one had said we couldn’t. Of course, some tacky woman spoiled that by hauling out her camera with all sorts of noises and taking flash photographs. This was right after someone else answered her mobile phone and had a conversation. The guide was very irritated, thinking that people should know a little better.

The main sitting room with a beautiful arrangement of white and purple lilacs from the property. You can see that there are some small bronzes of horses just behind the camelback sofa. What I should have taken a picture of was the broken pediments with urns above all of the doors. It was classic!
The dining room, part of the original 18th century section of the house, features a painted mural which was once a room screen.
Detail of the wall mural.
The table is set with Coalport china, which is also in the lit cabinet in the background. The china is painted with hunt scenes.
Harvey Ladew’s office is set between the main hall and the dining room. It has the original unpainted woodwork from the 18th century.
Some of Ladew’s collection of horse- and hunt-themed china.
This is when my pictures stop…

However, there’s one more room to show you. Apparently, Billy Baldwin, who was good friends with Harvey Ladew, helped decorate a room at Pleasant Valley. The second floor sitting room is painted a dark aubergine and has some chairs that are covered with a fabric that looks very much like something BB would have used. All through this room, and the rest of there house, there are paintings, drawings and sculptures of horses, foxes and hunt scenes.
The library in the house is designed around an oval partners desk which Ladew bought in London. The library itself is oval, with floor to ceiling bookshelves lining the room. The ceiling is coffered with lighting above the bookshelves flooding it. From the outside, the wing which houses the library is square, and there are hidden rooms and closets filling in the gaps. It is listed in the 1968 book, “The 100 Most Beautiful Rooms in America” by Helen Comstock.

It’s most unfortunate that there’s not more published information about the rooms in this house, as their style is very particular to Harvey Ladew, a man who devoted his life to fox hunting, riding and entertaining.


  1. Meg -- thanks for sharing. Especially like the wall mural. Can you believe people and their cell phones? On a tour? Just too much.

  2. I cannot believe I haven't visited this house and its gardens. Ever! And I've been captivated by the Ladew biography published some years ago. Obviously I need to get myself into gear.

  3. I knew about this event and wished I could come, but my weekends are tied to Middletown for the moment.
    The Ladew dining room reminds me of the beautiful mural wallpaper at Eleutherian Mills (duPont home at Hagley). Thanks for both posts!

  4. Court... this was also the woman who arrived 10 minutes late for the tour and asked the guide to start over. The guide said no.

  5. AL... GO! Next time you're down this way, you should try and make time to see this garden. It's just spectacular.

    Tomorrow, I will post about the gardens, which are incredible. Just so well thought out.

  6. Amanda... I am so glad you told me about Middleton. We're thinking of the same idea for our Main Street!

  7. It is amazing to me how many people have NO manners.
    I love that dining room and the wall mural is to die for.
    Thank you so much for sharing...I really enjoyed it.

  8. another great header - the branches have a natural scallopd edge - wire urn with tomatoes and basil - visions of summer dancing in my head

  9. I join others in my adoration of the dining room mural. It's just beautiful. Ladew's office intrigues me. The walls look so interesting. What did you think?

  10. Granny...The walls in the office look like they've been waxed over the years. It's a very small room with low ceilings, and could be very cozy. The floors were beautiful old wood. But it wasn't my favourite room.

  11. I love the wall mural, it is all beautiful!

  12. i've heard so much about ladew gardens, so it's fun to finally see them :)


  13. I can't get enough of American houses! This is
    magical. I love the fox china too. Must find out about Harvey Ladew.

  14. Just like an English Country Manor! Love the muraled walls- Dickens goes to the Country

  15. Good lord... this is FABULOUS!

    (and I love your new header...)

  16. oh my, how beautiful! just decadent!


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