Arthur Young wrote in 1769:
“...the stair-case is in a very just taste, wide and lofty, the ceiling ornaments green and white.”
Here the work of Vardy meets that of James ‘Athenian’ Stuart. The lower part of the well is Vardy’s while Stuart was responsible for the upper part which was intended to give the impression of a Greek temple interior with the festive garlands threaded between the Ionic pilasters.
The stone cantilevered stairs have an unusual balustrade of cut sheet metal, painted in trompe l’oeil to represent festoon drapery. Stuart very successfully incorporated Vardy’s Venetian window, a Palladian motif, into his staircase scheme.
The contrast between the plain lower part and the elaborate treatment of the upper storey is a clear indication that the most splendid architectural effects at Spencer House are reserved for the first floor.
When to visit
Open every Sunday (except during August) from 10.30am – 4.30pm (last tour).
Access is by guided tour, which lasts approximately 1 hour.