Page Five

Such is the situation of the opposite neighbourhood; the estate of Fernhill forms the other side of the picture; its plantations bordering the road, its grounds sloping along the margin of the expanded sheet of water that appears a fine lake, backed by woods and lofty downs.

In this situation the late Lord Bolton, Governor of the Island, erected this elegant mansion, but soon parted with it to the late possessor, Samue1 Shute, Esq., not long deceased. During the minority of his son, Thomas Deane Shute, it is in the occupation of his widow. By the taste of this family it has been highly embellished and brought to its present state of elegance. The house is a spacious edifice in the Gothic style, having some resemblance to a church. The front has an open corridor, rising to the upper windows, supported by five slender pillars of great height. At each end are the principal rooms, which are sumptuously'fitted up. The postern end has a large Gothic church window of great beauty, the upper part of which lights an elegant drawing room on the first floor. Behind rises a square tower surmounted by a small round gallery, whence is a most commanding view of the Island and opposite coast. The tower was illuminated by Lord Bolton, as Governor, on the occasion of the Royal visit to Spithead in 1794, and was visible to a great distance in every direction.

The grounds rank among the finest in the Island, the shrubbery extending to Wootton Bridge, and the plantations throughout are flourishing and luxuriant. The arbutus abounds here in perfection and various tender and exotic plants are to be found thriving amongst the sheltered walks."

Accompanying the foregoing description of Fernhill is an engraving by an artist whose name is not given, and a copy is shown on the front cover of this booklet. As artists usually include impressions of the occupants of the mansions they are commissioned to draw, I like to think that the three elegant ladies in the foreground are Mrs. Shute and her two step daughters, whilst Master Shute is standing a little to the right with two of his sisters and their dog leaping around them.

In the box of documents in the Record Office there is a book written in the most beautiful handwriting, which contains an inventory of the furniture at Fernhill at the time of Samuel Shute's death. To give an idea of the number of rooms and outhouses in the mansion, I have set them out below in the order they were written, although of course space is too limited to include the furniture in them. There were many beautiful and unusual pieces described in the inventory, and I have inserted one or two that caught my eye in case they should be of interest.

  • 1. Lower Sitting Room.
  • 2. Small room in Tower.
  • 3. Valet's Bedroom.
  • 4. Dressing Room.
  • 5. Best Bedroom.
    Included with the furniture was an elegant japanned 4 - post State bedstead with handsome chintz furniture, lined with rich pink persian silk and fringed, with burnished gold. cornices. 2 pair of mahogany steps.
  • 6. Gallery.
  • 7. Dressing Room adjoining.
  • 8. Second best Bedroom.
  • 9. Batchelor's bedroom adjoining.
  • 10. Laundry maid's room.
  • 11. Miss Shute's bedroom.
  • 12. Governess's Room.
  • 13. Drawing Room.
    Included with the furniture was a 26' x 18' Rich Persian carpet, and 3 double flint glass girondelles.
  • 14. Mrs. Shute's Bedroom.
    Included with Mrs. Shute's bedroom furniture were 2 swords, silver mounted and a blunderbuss! (To repel all boarders no doubt!)
  • 15. Dressing Room.
  • 16. Mrs. Shute's Dressing room.
  • 17. Day Nursery.
  • 18. Night Nursery.
  • 19. Cook's Bedroom.
  • 20. Red Bedroom.
  • 21. Mr. Shute's Bedroom.
  • 22. Maid Servant's Bedroom.
  • 23. Dining Room. Included with the furniture was a Rich Brussels Carpet 27' x 19'; a set of mahogany dining tables with circular ends and shifting leaves, 16'6" x 4'6". 1 pair of glass girondelles on a gilt stand.
  • 24. Mr. Shute's Dressing Room.
  • 25. Library. Brussels carpet 23' x 18'.
  • 26. Saloon. Brussels carpet 26' x 14'.
  • 27. Governess's Room.
  • 28. Butler's Pantry.
  • 29. Entrance Hall, passage and landing place.
  • 30. Housekeeper's Room.
  • 31. Kitchen.
  • 32. Scullery.
  • 33. Larder.
  • 34. Private Larder. Included were two large salting troughs lined with lead!
  • 35. Coachman's and Footman's.
  • 36. Gardener's Bedroom.
  • 37. Shoe House.
  • 38. Servants' Hall.
  • 39. Brew House.
  • 40. Washing House adjoining.
  • 41. Laundry. Included were 1 long ironing board with drawers underneath and 1 Drying Machine complete. (This in 1806!)
  • 42. Ash House.
  • 43. Cellar.
  • 44. Harness House. 2 side saddles. 2 men's saddles. 5 bridles. 2 watering bridles. 2 pair of coach harness. 1 pair of cart harness. 3 saddle stands.
  • 45. Stables. 2 Coach horses. 3 Saddle horses. 3 water buckets, wheelbarrow and lanthorn. 6 collar halters.
  • 46. Coach House. Family Coach complete. Market cart.
  • 47. In the Yard. Bottle rack. Lead pump trough. Dog's house!

Glass. Linen. Plate. Books — long list. School Books.

Several "four - poster" beds were mentioned, together with "tent" and "field" bedsteads. There was also a "stump" bedstead in the Butler's Pantry.

To give an idea of the size of the main rooms of the house, I have included the carpets with their measurements.

The word "girondelle" rather intrigued me. I found it was spelt "girandole" in my modern dictionary, meaning a branching chandelier or candlestick.