Red Lodge Museum
The Red Lodge in Bristol looks like another elegant Georgian house but it hides a remarkable secret. Hidden inside is the last complete Tudor room in the UK. As well as having 3 glorious Tudor rooms, Red Lodge has an astonishing history.
Red Lodge was built in 1579-1580 by John Young/Yonge, the descendant of a merchant family and courtier to King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.
The Lodge would have originally been used as a guest house and entertainment pavilion where the Young family would promenade their guests through their eight ornamental gardens and orchards, before wining and dining them at the Great House.
John Young died in 1589 shortly after the Red Lodge was completed, and his 19-year-old son, Robert Young inherited the entire estate. Robert quickly spent his inheritance and had to convey the Red Lodge to Nicholas Strangeways to avoid seizure. By 1595, the building was rented out to various tenants as a residence separate from the Great House.
The Tudor Rooms
These rooms are three of the oldest rooms in Bristol
and show the original Lodge as it was in 1580. There is a grand Elizabethan four-poster bed, wood panelling and sturdy oak furniture. There’s also a painting which might just be the earliest portrait of a slave in the UK.
The Great Oak Room
This room retains its original Elizabethan oak panelling, moulded plaster ceiling and ‘double-decker’ fireplace. It took two whole years to put the Great Oak Room together! From 1578 to 1580 the top craftsmen of the day carved the oak, sculpted the stone and moulded the ceiling.
The room is displayed as it would have appeared in the 16th century, with oak furniture and beautiful portraits. The portrait of Queen Elizabeth I
is a genuine 16th century painting on loan from a private collector.
Entry is via an oak internal porch. John Young, a merchant, wanted to use the room to show off to other merchants so decorated it with exotic motifs of the age. The only features which have changed since the room was built are the enlarged Georgian windows, giving a view onto the knot garden.
Accommodation - Search & Book through Agoda here:
The Small Oak Room & Bedroom
These rooms are contemporary with the Great Oak Room but much less richly panelled. The Bedroom has the moulded plaster ceiling upon which the knot garden’s design is based.
In this room hangs an interesting portrait of Florence Smyth and her black ‘Page’. There is no information on the identity of the boy in the portrait, so it can’t be said whether the boy is a slave, a servant, or a peer of Florence’s. If the boy is a slave then it is probably the earliest depiction of a slave in the UK.
18th Century Alterations
In the 1730s, John and Mary Henley bought the Red Lodge and doubled the size of the lodge with a three storey extension. This is when the Lodge was turned into an elegant Georgian mansion with large windows and a re-hipped roof. The beautiful big staircase was added, as well as what are now call the New Oak Room, the Print Room and the Mary Carpenter Room. Luckily the large Tudor room was not touched.
The Print Room
This 18th century room is furnished as a typical Print Room of the period. The collection of tiles around the fireplace, examples of marquetry and parquetry in the furniture and the ‘japanned’ grandfather clock represent the fashion of the early 18th century.
The grand Georgian staircase and landing display portraits of notable people linked with the house . The staircase was designed with as many windows as possible and nobly proportioned, with a grand chandelier to illuminate Mary Henley and her guests as they processed into the Reception Room.
The Reception Room & Parlour
Though the Reception Room and Parlour are in the original Tudor core of the house, they underwent major renovations by the Henleys to present them as fashionable Georgian rooms.
The Parlour has a mixture of Georgian Deal panelling and original Tudor oak panelling, and an original moulded plaster ceiling.
The Girls’ Reformatory
Before the end of the extension work, John Henley died, leaving Mary Henley childless and unable to inherit. A clause in John’s Will prevented the building from being leased long term or sold.
Eventually, the Lodge became a school in 1854 when Mary Carpenter and Lady Byron transformed it from doctors’ flats. It was established as the first ever girls’ reform school – before this the Victorians had thought that girls didn’t need reforming!
Goodness only knows what had been going on in the Red Lodge before it became a school – Mary Carpenter recorded in her diary that she came across a human foot when first looking around the lodge!
Despite the good intentions of Mary Carpenter and Lady Byron, life would not have been easy for the pupils of the school.
The Mary Carpenter Room
In this room can be seen a sad and touching reminder of the Lodge’s time as a Reform School. On the window are the etched words "for get me not" (sic).
The Mary Carpenter Room contains a display of the history of the Red Lodge as a school, a painting by the ‘Bristol Savages’ of Mary Carpenter with her first pupil, a photo of Mary Carpenter, a workbook, an early 20th century photo of schoolgirls cross-stitching in front of The Great Oak Room fire and Mary Carpenter's Broadwood piano, bought for the house in 1845.
New Oak Room Well
Ever since the 19th century this room had a chronic damp problem and in 1965 the reason for it was found. While removing the floor, panelling and fireplace during restoration, the remains of a well were found below the floor, presumably covered over during the Georgian renovations.
Plan Your Trip
Accommodation - Search & Book through Booking.com here:
Limited to ground floor. Folders containing photographs of the displays upstairs are available on the ground floor.
Contact & Futher Information
- By Bus
Bus numbers 1, 2, 8, 9, 16, 19, 40, and 41 all travel up Park Street and from the Clifton Triangle.
- By Walking
The museum is located on Park Row - look out for the bright red door. The Red Lodge is a five minute walk from Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
- By Car
The museum is around two miles (3.2 km) from the M32. The closest city car park to the museum is Trenchard Street, about two minute walk.
Google Map - Red Lodge Museum