Bought or commissioned by eight generations of descendants of Sir Robert Walpole, England's first prime minister, the objects at Houghton Hall comprise a fascinating chronicle of centuries of collecting. From inkstands to wine coolers, the silver made for Sir Robert evokes his role as statesman as well as his legendary hospitality. Most of the extant silver was made by Paul de Lamerie (1688–1751), widely recognized as England's greatest 18th-century silversmith and a fitting maker of objects for the prime minister.
Houghton's equally impressive collections of Vincennes and Sèvres, comprising tableware and "collector pieces," were begun in Paris in the 19th century by the present Marquess' great-great-grandfather Gustave de Rothschild (1829–1911). Whether they date from the very founding of the house or from subsequent additions, the objects at Houghton Hall are the glittering result of generations of connoisseurs.
A reception to meet the speaker follows the lecture presented by Christine Gervais, associate curator, decorative arts and Rienzi.
Guests may also enjoy the exhibition Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House until 8 p.m. and join in a Your Turn to Speak Tour.