Advertisement. Advertise with us

English Carpet Expert

Finds Gold At Hyde Hall

By LIBBY CUDMORE • The Freeman’s Journal

Edition of Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014


David Luckham examines Hyde Hall’s diningroom drapes, assisted by Jon Maney, center, and David Hunt. (Ian Austin/The Freeman's Journal)
David Luckham examines Hyde Hall’s diningroom drapes, assisted by Jon Maney, center, and David Hunt. (Ian Austin/The Freeman’s Journal)

Within fifteen minutes of arriving at Hyde Hall, David Luckham may have solved one of the house’s oldest mysteries.
“This is a classic Wilton pattern,” he said, examining a length of carpet that Executive Director Jon Maney and his Hyde Hall team had recovered from the drawing room. “An Axminster loom is capable of weaving multiple colors, but this one only has five.”

“Is there a possibility that this is a reproduction of the carpet used in the drawing room?” asked Maney.

“I see no reason why not!” replied Luckham.

Luckham, a textile researcher and founder of the Living Looms project, came over from London, England, to examine the carpets and drapes Maney recovered from the house.

“One doesn’t get to see places like this too often,” said Luckham as he fingered a piece of the drawing room’s gold-fringed drapes. “Students nowadays do it on the box, but the point is to see how it felt. If you don’t go, you don’t get a sense of the grandeur of the home.”

In the dining room, a fragment of a Brussels carpet remains, as do the worsted wool damask drapes with the “Interwoven Globe” pattern, as well as two gold trimmed tuffetts – or “pouffes,” as Luckham described them and two matching bolster pillows from the sofa. “We’re hoping to absolutely copy and reproduce the carpet for the dining room,” said Maney.

But the color and pattern of the carpet in the drawing room remained a mystery. “We think it was either buff, gold and blue or green,” Maney said. “We found a green scrap of green silk in a sofa we were having reupholstered, but we didn’t know what it went to.”

Tack holes found on the drawing room chairs also suggested an earlier covering, possibly where the green silk swatch came from, and the gold drapes in the collection are believed to have come from the drawing room windows. It is believed that Clarke brought the drapes and carpets from his Albany townhouse to the estate when he began to live at Hyde Hall full-time.

George Clarke, who built the mansion on Hyde Bay in the 18-teens, kept meticulous records, including receipts for the dining room décor, but none of the records contain any information about what may have been in the drawing room.

In the Axminster reproduction of the original carpet, perhaps Clarke sought to honor his father’s conservative tastes. “George carefully designed every aspect of this house,” said Maney.

To research and recreate the carpets, Maney received a $50,000 grant from the Gipsom Family in Unadilla, and is seeking continued support from the friends of Hyde Hall in the community. “We believe that by giving people the chance to add to the Gipson family funds, the entire project will have a more broad foundation of support,” said Maney. “We have worked hard over the past few years to establish Hyde Hall’s value to people in our area, and we are seeing increased levels of support because of it.”

Currently, Rabbit Goody of Thistle Hill Weavers, Cherry Valley, is creating a damask Venetian runner for the hall and main staircase. “That kind of damask hasn’t been woven in years,” said David Hunt of the Vermont Custom Rug Company, who will be installing the new carpets with his wife, Charlene.

The new carpets, like the originals, will be made in England. “We want to go with English makers using English designs to ensure authenticity,” said Maney.

He hopes to have the drawing room carpet installed by May 2015, when the mansion opens for the season. “At Hyde Hall, we want to create the most authentic experience possible,” said Maney. “It’s about creating an understanding with real depth. This isn’t Disneyland. This is an experience people can’t get anywhere else.”


Related Articles

News Briefs: August 19, 2023

Folk music at Hyde Hall tonight, news from Bassett and SUNY Oneonta, upcoming blood drives and next weekend's community-wide lawn sales in Fly Creek are among today's topics.…

News Briefs: June 29, 2023

OTSEGO COUNTY—James Irving Matson announced that he will be performing a research survey of barn quilts in upstate New York. He asked residents who own, display or make barn quilts to reach out to him via Facebook or Matson intends to interview residents and compile a catalog of the increasingly popular art form in the region. Barn quilts are a relatively new form of grassroots public art and have become common in the American South and parts of Canada.…

News In Brief: June 8, 2023

News In Brief: June 8, 2023 Photo Contest Is Extended OTSEGO COUNTY—Whether you honored those who served our nation in the armed forces over the recent holiday weekend, enjoyed a picnic or parade with family and friends, went sightseeing or just relaxed at home with the kids, please send us your favorite Memorial Day Weekend photographs. Iron String Press staff will choose their favorite photo, to be printed in “The Freeman’s Journal” and “Hometown Oneonta” and shared on the AllOtsego Facebook page. All photographs will be posted in a photo gallery on our website,, and the winning picture will…