During the Middle Ages, English domestic life was conducted in the Great Hall. During the period the
Weddells lived at Virginia House, this Great Hall was the entrance used to greet the Weddell's guests.
It was also used for entertaining the large groups the Weddells frequently invited to Virginia House.
Their eclectic taste in interior decoration is evident. Before Mr.
Weddell was appointed to an ambassadorship, the Weddells lived in India and Mexico where he
served as U.S. consul. Most of the objects in the house were collected while
they lived and traveled abroad.
This room's atmosphere is achieved by the association of the various decorative elements
with the romantic aspects of the English middle ages and Tudor and Stuart England.
The Weddells had Charles Duveen, a London antiques dealer, locate as much of Warwick Priory's
interior as possible. The seventeenth-century staircase is original to the house and was found in London
by Duveen. The paneling was made of twelfth-century oak from Warwick Priory. The sixteenth-century
oak front door features linenfold paneling popular with Tudor
woodcarvers between 1450 and 1580. This type of paneling originated in Flanders as
a representation of linen cloth laid in vertical folds.
Providing electric lighting and central heating, without compromising the atmosphere
of Virginia House, presented Mrs. Weddell with a unique challenge. The early
nineteenth-century Spanish sanctuary torchères are copies from Renaissance models.
The shades were made from vellum pages cut from medieval missals.
The switch plates and radiator covers throughout the house were fashioned from brass,
cut in the shape of heraldic shields featuring profiles of Elizabethan men and women.
Wall plates and shades for wall sconces were created from Spanish escutcheons.
The recently conserved seventeenth-century Dutch bronze chandelier was also electrified and features two
tiers of eight candles each supported on scrolling arms. A phoenix and a ring of eight
trumpeting mermaids top the chandelier.