29 November-Talk, Decoding the Classical Interior: Fairfax House, York

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6 Fitzroy Square W1


Fairfax House is one of England’s finest Georgian townhouses, a 1760 reworking of an earlier house by Carr of York for the 9th Viscount Fairfax. Patron and architect envisaged a townhouse full of rich ornamentation, classical architectural features, handsome proportions and light cascading into the heart of the building, all realised by a team of highly skilled and largely local craftsmen. The results were and are spectacular, especially the complex stuccowork that heralds room function. More impressive still is the ceiling of the grand staircase, which may refer to Britain’s supremacy in the Seven Years War and, covertly, to Fairfax’s recusant Catholicism. Hugh Petter, architect and Vice-Chairman of the Georgian Group, helps us decode the secret messages.