4th April 2017
Behind the scenes at Warwick Castle, where one of our staff offices now sits, is a room known as the Italian library. In the late 19th century, the Italian library was the bedroom of Prince Edward VII for when he stayed at the castle. The Prince of Wales embarked on a nine-year long affair with our 5th Countess, Daisy. The room had an adjoining dressing room and a private bathroom just opposite. It was later used as a library which contained an array of books, archives and historical documents. The room used to be open to the public and displayed a selection of these documents to showcase certain aspects of the castle’s history. The collection was largely made up of items relating to the genealogy of the Earls of Warwick. The room and its wonders are now closed off to the public, so the only chance to see it is by booking onto one of our Behind the Scenes packages.
There are a number of impressive features in this room. The bedroom furniture included a gilded bed which was sold in 1970 by David Greville, Lord Brooke. The marble fireplace dates back to the 18th century and is probably Flemish or Dutch. But perhaps the most stunning feature is the ceiling by Jacob de Wit. The painting is dated 1735, and is made from oil on canvas that has been set into the ceiling, but was not installed in the castle until the late 19th century. It represents the rape of Ganymede. Ganymede is a beautiful mortal from Greek mythology who was abducted by Zeus, the King of Gods. The paintings are set in four separate corners of the ceiling and reflect the four seasons. The artist used a technique called Grisaille, which uses monochrome tones to imitate sculpture.