Silver curator and dining historianPhilippa Glanville hasassembled an insightful display oftable objects and related documentsthat elucidate the eating rituals ofthe dukes of Portland—and of theirextensive staffs. The elegance offormal entertainments given by thiseminent family is seen through suchimportant creations as a pair ofDutch silver water fountains ofabout 1681 by Adam Loofs forWilliam of Orange; an extensivecollection of porcelain ice pails bySèvres, Derby, and Nantgarw; anda 180-piece silver-gilt dessert servicecreated over a decade from the midproduced 1750s by Daniel Smith and RobertSharp, replete with a dizzying arrayof insects, seashells, and plants.However, another section about theServants Hall looks at the humblerobjects used by “upper” and “lower”servants of the household. Receiptbooks, inventories, and bills fromfishmongers, fruiterers, confectioners,and butchers hint at the menusconsumed both upstairs and downstairs.
Charles Phillips’s painting A Tea Party at the Countess of Portland’s, of1732, rounds out this investigationof the English table. Never beforeexhibited publicly, it portrays JaneMartha Temple, second wife ofHans William Bentinck, fi rst Earlof Portland, in her role as hostess.
Although getting to the HarleyGallery, located about 110 miles outside of London in North Nottinghamshire,requires a modicumof eff ort, those who do so may alsowant to visit Stichelton Dairy, whichproduces the only unpasteurizedartisanal version of Stilton, and thenew School of Artisan Food, bothalso located on the Welbeck Estate.
Photo: One of a pair of water fountains by AdamLoofs (c. 1645–1710), The Hague, c. 1681. Silver, height 33 1/2 inches. Harley Gallery, Portland Collection, Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, England.