Cabinet on stand
Charles Paget Wade’s fascination with objects of craftsmanship started with this cabinet.
Buddhist Shrine Cabinet of black lacquer with gold decoration. It features two doors and multiple drawers, some hidden into the decoration. The cabinet sits on a plain black stand with shaped stretchers, bun feet and fretwork brackets. This cabinet is known as 'Grannie's Cabinet as it belonged to Charles Paget Wade's Grandmother Katherine Blanche Spencer (nee Bulwer). It had great sentimental value to Charles and is often seen as the inspiration for Charles Wade’s collection. In his notebook ‘Days far Away’ (SNO.MISC.958) Wade describes his Granny Spencer’s house (Katherine Blanche Bulwer) and includes the following references to the cabinet. 'Hidden away in the darkest corner of the room was affine tall 18th cent. Secretaire with curved pediment above its glazed doors – this had belonged to the great, great grandfather Dr. Augustine Bulwer, D.D'. (Page 15) On additional pages 19-24 Wade describes the cabinet, and the weekly tradition of opening it in more detail. He includes detailed sketches of the cabinet and its 'magic key'. 'Facing the piano was an exceptionally lovely old Chinese CABINET of black and gold lacquer. This was always my greatest joy. Its fascination never failed – to me it was never a piece of furniture but a Heavenly, Celestial Palace of Far Away – Cathay. Only on Sundays were the doors allowed to be set open – as they opened came the fragrance of Camphor, then the interior of this Enchanted Golden Palace was revealed. A palace fit for the greatest MANDARIN. How it enticed one to enter, and wander about its many different levels, set with COURTS, PAVILIONS, mysterious deep arched recesses, sliding screens, grilles, steps, with columns of such rich glowing gold. How I longed to be allowed to stand on a chair, so be able to see into all its innermost recesses – the whole reflected many times in the mirrors set each side in the Fore Courts. It was all so very high up, so far off and difficult for me to see. There were exciting Secret Drawers hidden away behind the little Pavilions, which Granny would occasionally reveal. The cabinet was filled with interesting old Family Treasures – these I loved to be shown and told about. There was a little wax angel, with golden wings, from a Christmas tree when granny was a child. Two musical boxes which played airs with notes like ripples and clear cascades of falling water. A little bone model of a ‘Spinning Jenny’ with two little bone ladies. Two small models of rowing boats. The great, great grandfather’s compass (sic) of pinchbeck in its red leather case. His case of beautifully shaped drawing instruments and his silver spectacles in Shagreen case. There were painted snuff boxes, old jewelry (sic) and a cherry stone with an ivory stopper containing a set of minute silver spoons. These drawers of shells, polished stones, coins, butterflies and moths. Assuredly, it was the most wonderful cabinet that ever was. The proportions too, are everywhere exactly right, as is the balance of black and gold in its decoration. I know of nothing with such an enchanting Fairyland atmosphere, made in any other land but CHINA. How delightful are the fantasies of the little drawings upon the lacquered panels. Pavilions, Pagodar (sic), Rivers, Rocks, Bridges, Steps, Boats, Islands, Steeping Stones, Birds, Mountains, Pine Trees, Willows, and ways to faraway Lands. A delightful delicately pierced valence is carried across the top of the cabinet, tying the whole design together. This cabinet made in Canton – 1700-1710 – was given to my grandmother when she was 18 by her Father [Augustine Bulwer] who bought it at Norwich. No drawing can convey its fascination’. (pages 19-24) The exterior has a second decoration painted over the original. The left hand side was cleaned off by Charles Paget Wade's Grandfather. In the centre at the back are two long vertical inscriptions of felicity and prosperity'.
Wooden, black lacquered cabinet, lacquer cracked . Gold paintings of various buildings, boats, birds, trees, insects, flowers on the two doors and the two sides. Floral motif in gold around the edges. Ornate brass lock plate, engraved with a floral design, attached with small brass pins. Ornate brass pin hinges, two per door. Insides of doors have gold paintings of bamboo, birds and bridges. Interior of cabinet contains gold painted fretwork frieze, pillars and balustrading. Two long drawers across the bottom with painted trees and buildings. Each has a central brass lock plate and brass handles each side. Two small drawers side by side above the long ones, also with painted trees and buildings, central lock plate and handle. Above them, one small drawer each side of the main platform. They have small handles, painted with trees and buildings and a geometric pattern around edges. Central, at the back of the main platform are 4 small drawers, painted as before, each with a small central knob. The top section has a small display platform each side, with gold pillars at corners and two moveable gold balustrades - one front and one side. The cabinet sides are mirrored. Fretwork sliding screens at the back can be slid across to the centre. Behind them are removable boxes like miniature cabinets, complete with balustrade front and ornate fretwork. Behind them are 3 small drawers. Beneath them are two long drawers and two small drawers each with small knob handles and painted as others. The central part is open. On the back are two painted inscriptions and between them a miniature painting of a landscape. In front of that are pillars and balustrading, and beneath the platform a drawer shaped like a four-tread stair, with a small drawer each side. Each side of the open centre is an arched opening with a balcony on top. Strung across the ceiling is a small metal chain. . Fairly plain black stand with shaped stretchers, bun feet and fretwork brackets.
CPW item 23 Given to the National Trust with Snowshill Manor in 1951 by Charles Paget Wade.
Wade, c.1945: Charles Paget Wade, Days Far Away, c.1945 Wade, 1944: Charles Paget Wade, Contents of Snowshill Manor. Volume 1 Ground Floor, 1944, page 88