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Distinctive Dining Decor

The dining parlor at Agecroft Hall has obviously changed throughout its centuries in existence. While we are not sure when a dining parlor was introduced to Agecroft, it is safe to assume there would have been one in the mid- to late 1600s. Dining parlors in English manor houses came into popularity in the late 1500s and, prior to that, everyone, family and servants alike, would have taken their meals in the great hall. A room set aside specifically for dining afforded the family and any guests more privacy and created an invisible barrier between the family and their servants.


Moving ahead to the 19th century, English homes were a hierarchy of public and private spaces—having a separate space in one’s home for eating sent out a message of wealth as lower class families would eat at spaces set aside in their kitchens or sitting rooms. Public spaces in the home were more important than private, family-only, spaces. Some rooms, like the dining parlor, functioned as both a private family space and a public space for invited visitors and guests, and the family would decorate these rooms with this dual function in mind.

Agecroft's Victorian-Era Dining Room

Rooms in a Victorian home were gendered: dining rooms were masculine; bedrooms and sitting rooms were feminine. The interior decoration of a Victorian English dining room reflected its masculine ambiance. This effect was achieved with dark wood, carpeting, and wallpaper, creating a dark space. Dark green and red upholstery and patterned wallpaper were popular. A sideboard was an essential piece of furniture topped with various decorative items. It was customary to fill the room with as much furniture and decorations as possible, centered around a large table. Through photographs, it is evident that Agecroft’s dining parlor was decorated following these trends. There is an elaborate sideboard centered on one wall covered in various décor pieces. There is a hefty center table, flanked by numerous ornately carved chairs, walls overwhelmed with framed artwork, and numerous carpets on the floor. The John of Gaunt window, on display in our Sunroom, can be seen in situ at one end of the dining room as well.

Agecroft's Victorian-Era Dining Room with John of Gaunt Window

During the early-to-mid 20th century, after its rebuild in Richmond, VA, Agecroft Hall was owned, primarily, by Elizabeth Williams Morton. She decorated the dining parlor with a large table in the center and a large Tudor-era cupboard on one wall. The walls display a few pieces of art. Mrs. Morton’s dining room did not reflect a typical dining room of her time. It reflected her interest in Tudor architecture, furniture, and design. Much of the furniture currently on display in the dining parlor are pieces collected by Mrs. Morton when she first furnished Agecroft Hall. Today, we exhibit a 1650s English manor house dining room, with food that changes seasonally, based on menus from that time.

Agecroft's Dining Room Rebuilt in Richmond

The dining parlor is currently undergoing a short refresh—work will be done on the ornate plaster ceiling, installed in 1927 by Jacobson & Co., which mimics ceilings found in Gilling Castle, and some repairs made to the woodwork in the room. We look forward to welcoming you to our newly refreshed dining parlor when you come visit!

Agecroft's Dining Room Rebuilt in Richmond Looking Towards the Back Lawn





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