If you have never visited the exquisite two temple place, you probably didn’t recognize it as Lady Rose’s wedding venue in the Downton finale. However, the exquisite building is open to the public briefly each year –and now is the time. The current exhibit is Cotton to Gold which consists of idiosyncratic collections amassed by a group of wealthy Lancashire industrialists.
British art features strongly in these collections: ( Turner watercolours and life drawings by Millais) but a number of collectors looked beyond these shores in search of more exotic objects. According to Country Life “Cotton manufacturer Thomas Boys Lewis, moved less by historical significance than purely aesthetic considerations, hunted down icons, enamel plaques, paintings and Japanese prints, all characterised by brilliant colour. George Eastwood, who built his fortune as a decorator of bazaars, halls and banquets, collected ivories from Europe, Africa and AsiaThe biggest surprises are those pieces that ended up in the North-West because their owners sought their fortunes overseas. Haworth Art Gallery happens to have Europe’s largest public collection of Tiffany glass, because Joseph Briggs, who left the town as a youth to become head of the Tiffany Studios in New York, bought up the stock when the company went bankrupt in 1932 and shipped it back to his hometown.