The House

1 Transcript: From the entrance hall of the porch, you will come through a narrow, red-carpeted corridor. The carpets in the house reflect Pears’ taste: his favourite colours were red and green – you can see the green-carpeted staircase leading to the first floor. The art on the walls also reflects Pears’ taste, as well as the creative and personal relationships the couple had with other leading artists of the period, most noticeably John Piper whose many stage designs for Britten’s operas and others of his paintings can be found all over the house. Continuing left down the corridor, the dining room is the first room to your left: containing a formal dining suite (with a walnut table), William Morris wallpaper, and a beautiful French tapestry hanging on the left wall. The room has wonderful views of the croquet lawn. The next room to the left is the smaller, and less formal breakfast room – again with lovely views of the garden, and walls full of artworks. There is also a television set dating from the early 1970s, which was given to Britten as a 60th birthday present by the Decca recording company. Opposite, on the right hand side of the corridor, is the former kitchen. This is now used as a gallery space, and this year there is a display of artworks by Christian Rohlfs. You might want to pause this audio guide now to have a look at the display, and there is more information about the works in the room and in the display cases.

At the end of the corridor is the drawing room: a place to entertain and relax, and with French windows opening out onto the garden. A large John Piper landscape painting, Clymping Beach, hangs on the wall just to the left of the door as you enter the room. Please enjoy looking around this space, but we would ask you not to touch any of the objects or furniture. The room is an eclectic mix of styles and furnishings, with its cork and gold-leaf wallpaper, domestic sofas, and more stylish Scandinavian stick chairs. The portrait of Britten above the fireplace was Pears’ favourite: he purchased it back from the previous owner after Britten died. The piano in the room is one of the few items not from the original collection: there was at times a piano in this room, but Britten’s piano left from here to go up to his studio fairly soon after they moved in. After you have finished looking around, please leave through the small drinks room, noticing the ‘beware of the dogs’ signs in various languages on the wall as you go in. Thank you for visiting The Red House.

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