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Dining in Style – Victorian service in the State Dining Room

Visit Harewood to see a milliefiori service

Visitors to Harewood House this spring bank holiday (14th April – 17th April 2017) will be treated to a fantastic table display in the State Dining Room. Emulating a Victorian dinner service, the stunning table is decorated with beautiful millefiori glassware service and silver candelabra.

Daily throughout the spring bank holiday, our guides will be giving a free, introductory talk at 11:30 on food and drink for visitors in the State Floor.

About the Millefiori Service

Baccarat enamelled and gilt glass service in the Venetian-style with flower-sprays (millefiori) inset and gilt foliage. Cut star on plates, white foliage on wine glasses. Dated pre-1864 (as recorded in Hamilton Palace inventory).

The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers) used to describe a distinctive glass pattern. This flower like pattern is produced by heating a bundle of thin glass rods of different colours until the rods fuse together.  It is a term that came into common usage in the Victorian period and was included in the Oxford English Dictionary from 1849.

Visit Yorkshire to see porcelain and glassware at Harewood

This millefiori service at Harewood consists of 242 pieces: two tier centre pieces, vases and covers, tazzas, bowl, bowls on feet, small and medium plates, dishes, finger bowls, wine glasses, liqueur glasses, tumblers, water jugs and decanters.

This spring bank holiday you will see one third of the service laid out on the State Dining Room table.  The ‘service à la française’ was a style of dining popular in the Victorian period where various dishes for a meal are served at the same time, contrary to ‘service à la russe’, where dishes were brought to each guest by a footman.

On the State Dining Room table this spring you will also see sugared almonds, fruits and flavoured jellies, all common sweet treats served at a Victorian dinner party.

Below Stairs, you can see copper moulds used for jellies by 19th century chefs in the Old Kitchen.

A Unique Provenance

Tracing the provenance of items such as this service can be challenging. We found a reference in the Chesterfield House Inventory from 1920, (the London home of the 6th Earl of Harewood) as ‘coming from Hamilton Palace’.

From recent discussions with the Museum of Scotland, we know the service was originally purchased by the 11th Duke and Duchess of Hamilton for their new London townhouse before it was taken to Hamilton Palace in Scotland sometime between 1866 and 1870.

Hamilton Palace, located 10 miles from Glasgow, was seat of the Duke of Hamilton from 1642. The superb Hamilton Palace collection consisted of furniture, antiquities, fine and decorative art, and was so grand it rivaled the royal collection.

During the mid-19th century, much of the collection had to be sold due to debts of £1.5 million with the first major sale taking place in 1882.

In 1895, the 13th Duke of Hamilton, Lieutenant Alfred Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, inherited the dukedom, property and debts. These debts led to a final sale and auction which marked the ultimate dispersal of the Hamilton Palace collection in 1919.

The story doesn’t end there; the Palace itself was demolished in 1927 due to subsidence caused by coals mines owned by the Hamilton family.

Visit Leeds to see porcelain and glassware at Harewood House

This bank holiday (14th – 17th April 2017) the service is displayed as part of our year-long focus on Harewood’s Victorian history. See this service for a limited time only and enjoy all the Victorian Harewood displays throughout the House.