Wightwick Manor is 'inspiration' for RSC set

By Marion Brennan | Wolverhampton | Wolverhampton entertainment | Published:

An historic manor house in Wolverhampton is the inspiration for a set design currently wowing audiences at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford.

Wightwick Manor is used as a model in Twelfth Night for the home of Olivia, one of the play's central characters. The house is also used in publicity posters for the production.

Adrian Edmondson, best-known for playing Vyvyan in The Young Ones, and former Eastenders actor Kara Tointon, winner of the 2010 series of Strictly Come Dancing, posed in front of the lavish country house, off the Bridgnorth Road.

The production's designer Simon Higlett and director Christopher Luscombe drew inspiration for the set design from the interiors of the house. They have set the play in the late Victorian period when the aesthetic movement – focused on fine art and crafts in rich, sumptuous colours – was at its height.

Wightwick Manor, built by 19th century industrialist Theodore Mander, is one of only a few surviving examples of a house furnished in the aesthetic style. Mander and his wife Flora were inspired to create it after a lecture, The House Beautiful, by the playwright Oscar Wilde.

Despite Stratford-upon-Avon's many famous timbered buildings, none is in the style of the arts and craft movement, so RSC bosses set up a photo shoot in the grounds of Wightwick.

The Grade I-listed family house, designed by Edward Ould of Liverpool, was completed in 1887 and the Great Parlour wing added six years later. It is notable for its use of William Morris wallpapers and fabrics, De Morgan tiles, Kempe glass and Pre-Raphaelite works of art, and was given to the National Trust by Sir Geoffrey Mander in 1937.

RSC spokesman Dean Asker said: "Wightwick Manor was the inspiration for the design of Olivia’s house in our current production of Twelfth Night.

"The architecture for the Manor was inspired by one of the lectures Oscar Wilde gave. Wilde was a pre-eminent representative of ‘Aestheticism’ that has influenced this production. There wasn’t a similar building in Stratford."

Twelfth Night runs at Stratford until February 24.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.


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