A comfortable room for formal entertaining, Preston Manor’s Dining Room is classic and masculine in character, but with a quirky collection of ceramics to inspire conversation at the table.
The Dining Room was built in 1905, when Charles and Ellen Thomas-Stanford made Preston Manor their main home. The couple entertained frequently, hosting dinner parties for prominent members of society, as well as family and friends.
Traditionally masculine in style, the Dining Room is decorated and furnished in a way that captures the spirit of the original Georgian house – it’s classic in detail, but has also been described as ‘comfortable and unostentatious’. With rich mahogany furniture, large French doors to the gardens and an open fire in winter, it must have been a lovely room throughout the year.
Formal service, from soup to dessert
The table is set for a formal dinner, which would have involved careful planning and presentation. Guests were served a number of courses, from soup to dessert, accompanied by wines chosen by the butler. After the meal, the ladies retired to the Drawing Room, while the men remained in the Dining Room, continuing their conversation over coffee.
One of the most eye-catching features of the room is a display of 124 ceramic Buddhist lions. Made in China for export to the West, most of these porcelain figures date from 1662-1795. Ellen acquired this collection over a number of years, and it is thought to be one of the largest in the world. A talking point for dinner guests in the Edwardian era, it is also hugely popular with visitors of all ages today.