As the ultimate jaw-dropping party accessory, it was specially designed to dazzle envious aristocrats.
And this week Temple Newsam’s gigantic silver wine cooler has been getting a bit of added sparkle as staff polish it up to impress a new generation of visitors to the historic mansion. The second largest of its kind anywhere in the world, weighing an impressive 80kg and measuring almost a metre-and-a-half across, the spectacular cooler was crafted in around 1705.
The ostentatious piece bears the mark of Philip Rollos, who was regarded as one of the finest goldsmiths of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. Records show it was granted to Thomas Wentworth, Lord Raby of Wentworth Castle in Yorkshire under the Privy Seal and was part of a large quantity of newly produced silver gifted to him for his diplomatic mission to Berlin.
As ambassador to the German capital, Lord Raby had been tasked with strengthening the Grand Alliance against King Louis XIV of France and needed an array of extravagant objects from the Royal Jewel Office to have on display when entertaining in the name of the sovereign. The enormous cooler would have been packed with ice, keeping wine chilled during banquets whilst also acting as an eye-catching display of precious metal.
Maya Harrison, principal keeper at Temple Newsam said:
“Huge silver wine coolers were the ultimate status symbol and in the 1700s, they were designed to ostentatiously flaunt the wealth and power of the monarch to any visiting aristocrats and dignitaries.
“Today Lord Raby’s cooler is a very different kind of centrepiece, on display at the house as a wonderful example of the craftsmanship of the time and a fascinating window onto a very different age.
“Conserving beautiful objects like the cooler is always a real privilege for us and a hugely rewarding part of getting the house looking its absolute best for visitors coming back.”
One of the country’s finest Tudor-Jacobean mansions, Temple Newsam House was used as a family home for much of its 500 year history. The birthplace to Lord Darnley, notorious husband of Mary Queen of Scots, today the house displays one of the most important collections of fine and decorative arts in Britain.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for culture, economy and education said:
“It’s been wonderful to see so many people back and safely enjoying our museums and galleries and to be experiencing their incredible stories again for the first time in a long time.
“There has been a tremendous amount of work behind-the-scenes to ensure these historic venues are ready to give visitors a warm welcome and it’s a tribute to the passion and dedication of the teams on site.”
Leeds Museums and Galleries indoor sites are now open as normal, with social distancing and COVID secure measures in place. Booking for Temple Newsam House is advised and can be done at: www.museumsandgalleries.leeds.gov.uk