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The 3 murals in the Drawing Room and Restaurant are the work of London art teacher, Barrington Barber. Working in oils straight onto the walls, he was encouraged by our previous owners, Mr & Mrs Boddy, to use ‘artistic licence’ to depict three periods in the life of Northcote Manor.
The first shows the Manor ‘Long-time Past’. There is some evidence to indicate that about 1000 years ago the Benedictine Monks from Tavistock Abbey came to the site. We don’t know exactly what they did here, but from the atmosphere which pervades our lovely Manor, especially at sunrise and sunset, we believe the work must have been largely contemplative in nature and of deep spiritual value. Research has so far indicated that the lands of Northcote belonged to Tavistock Abbey, having been given to the Abbey by the mother of Harold of England after Senlac, Hastings, and held until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.
The perspective and design of this mural is similar to medieval paintings with rather reduced proportion, resulting in figures farther away clearly defined and larger than one would expect. The border has a Latin quotation above, and an English translation below, from Psalm 131.
The second mural (near the entrance to the Restaurant) depicts the Manor in ‘Recent-time Past’; after it had been donated to the local aristocracy by Henry VIII, who had owned it for 21 years. The original manor house is thought to have been positioned to the south-west of the current site; the first wing of which was finished in 1716. From that time until 1973, the property was used as a 'Centre of Local Rural Life', housing the families of Lords of the Manor, including the Duke of Bedford and the Earl of Portsmouth. The mural is in an apparently carved frame on which the shields and coats of arms of these and other families are shown. The main motto: CLARIORA SEQUOR – “I FOLLOW THE LIGHT “, is that of the Buckingham family.
In the final mural, Barrington was encouraged to use his expressionist talent for mood-making 'vignettes' by showing the hotel in times present and future. Northcote Manor has been a hotel since 1973, but has only recently been upgraded to such high standards; affording guests an opportunity to experience timeless tranquillity in modern luxury and comfort.
Our owners, Mr & Mrs Mifsud see the hotel as a centre of calm relaxation; a place to return after a busy day of activities and exploration. Some of these are colourfully depicted in the mural; along with a judicious reference to past (or are Henry and the wives returning?) guests! Any resemblance between faces in the murals, and those seen around the hotel, is purely intentional, but fret not - the murals are now finished! Barrington Barber teaches art at St James Independent School for Boys, Twickenham, Middlesex.