Sunday, December 25, 2011

Blithewold Mansion and Gardens

Merry Christmas From Bristol

Blithewold Estate has a beautiful old Mansion, Garden and Arboretum in Bristol, Rhode Island. It was built in the mid-1890's by a family named, Van Winkle, and they had a fire a few years later. It was then rebuilt and stands today, as it was then. I learned of it last fall while browsing through the tiny city library when we visited Bristol and I knew that Laura and I just had to visit the mansion at Christmas one year. I didn't know it would be so soon.

It was delightful in every way and I got to go two times! One day with James and the very next day with Laura. We love doing Christmas home tours, especially the old homes of the 1800s. This is probably the best one I have ever seen. Design is totally in the details and this estate owner knew that from the beginning.

The architecture, the flow, the crown molding, ceilings and stairways and banisters are fabulous. Exquisite detailing on every level just make this home sublime. The thing that makes it a crown jewel is it was given in trust to the city, with the entire contents of the home included. This makes for an authentic, historic home viewing experience. Many of these types of homes are filled with period pieces that were never in the home originally. Sometimes the fit is awkward, but not here. Houses and their contents say so much about a family. Here is the real corker...admission $10.00. In CA it would be three or four times that.


Here we have the most perfect, gianormous Christmas Tree.
Should have had Jim stand in front of it for scale. Love it!

The back of the home

The lawn and view of the sea!

Laura's ready to walk in!

Foyer's two-stories-tall Christmas Tree
This year's theme...'bringing nature in.'

The grand Mantel in the Entryway about 6 feet 6 inches tall.

Details of the big tree. It was really a pretty one!

This is a tiny phone room off the foyer.
The amazing thing is the wall mural.
It looks like wallpaper when you first see it.

I loved seeing this in this elegant home~
We have something similar in our cottage!

The kitchens of today are a little more functional for cooking but nobody has this beautiful
for their dishes, stemware and linens.
Love the butler's pantry attributes.

I'd give up my dishwasher and disposal
Jenn-Air grill for this...any day of the week!

These Silver Candlesticks found on the
mantle in the formal dining room
are amazingly beautiful.

The silver was so highly polished and shiny it was hard to take a photo because the room was dark. We loved the tall, battery operated candles with the slender flames too. They looked very elegant compared to the ones you see so often. Here in New England the single candle in the middle of every window sill is popular, and very classy looking as your drive by at Christmas time when it is dark. It is a really pretty place, New England that is.

The Dining Room
It is a very formal room with dark wood carved paneling on the walls and a dark slate paint on the plaster. Both Laura and I agreed we would not have selected it but it was remarkably effective in creating a very elegant setting for the tea. The trees in this room were decorated with blue ornaments and a lot of silver and clear glass with white lights. Elegant.

The Tea
They had some wonderful chamomile herbal tea, scones, and sweet and savory bite size offerings on the tea menu. Most gentlemen would have wanted a bit more, but the ladies savored it and delighted in the nurturing of this exquisite setting and good conversation. I had such a sublime time with Laura we were out all day...breakfast, lunch and dinner, covered part of two states, lots of shopping and gabbing and mommy/daughter time. Nothing like it...pure heaven..I didn't get any sisters but the Lord blessed me with two wonderful, wonderful girls, a super daughter by marriage and five grandgirls to help fill in that void. Lucky me!

My Christmas Present..a day with my littlest girl, Laura!

The living room was divine. The mantel was amazing.
The trees on the side of the mantel were half trees.
A great idea and very effective on yet another
over-sized fireplace and mantel.

We spent some time checking out the garlands and how they made them. We love to do the garlands. They make all the difference in your Christmas decor. They are painstaking, labor intensive and take a long time, but they are sooo worth it.A Garland maker's best friend, wired, wide ribbons. Vintage Christmases without them are nearly impossible.

Jim discovered this little trick they used to double the lighting effect on your mantel. Line it with a shinny piece of transparent plastic and it acts like a mirror and illuminates everything twice as much. Love it!

I want Jim to make us some of these glass doors
for our bookcases when his shop is done.
He said OK!!

Just a little quirky, no?

Some of the bedrooms in the mansion.

A Child's Room

The bath
We enjoyed seeing this bathroom with the double sinks and the claw foot soaking tub. Sadly the big bathroom scale. It has always been an issue it seems. One had to be able to get into those stays and tight dresses with the laces. The price of a little beauty is so high, isn't it?

We had a wonderful time doing this this week. I hope you have also had some fun pre-Christmas activities. Next week we are touring a bunch of historical homes in Newport. Not mansions just older, smaller houses from the 19th century decked out for the Christmas Season. Wish you could come too.

Merry Christmas to you and now I am off for a nap under a big furry blanket. Still freezing but happy! Santa has been very generous and I am pretty tired after only four hours of sleep. We went to a Midnight Mass last night at a local Catholic Church after a big fancy dinner party here earlier in the evening. And then presents and church this morning. Full day yesterday, plus running today = nap time now. Zzzzzzz..... Hugs, B


{Bellamere Cottage} said...

FAB.U.LOUS... I would love to see it too...

Couldn't miss popping over to wish you a very Merry Christmas dear girl....



Marie said...

What a beautiful home Bonnie. How nice to have been able to enjoy it with your girl! Having worked in a very similar environment, I can say with all honesty, pretty to look at, but boy oh boy not so fun for the people that have to keep all that stuff clean and looking nice! lol It was hard work! Merry Christmas and much love to all the family! xxoo

Sister Susie said...

Such beauty in this world! I can only imagine the mansion Christ has gone to prepare for each and ever one of us!
Merry Christmas and a most Happy New Year to you and yours,