Lady Lever Art Gallery, artwork of the month for April 2007. ‘Music Room’, by Thornton Manor
About the artwork
William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925) moved his expanding Sunlight Soap production to the Wirral in 1888. Here, he set about building a new factory and a village for his workers, which he named Port Sunlight after his increasingly popular soap.
It was important for Lever to base himself near to work and his building developments so from the autumn of 1888 he rented the early Victorian house Thornton Manor which was just 3 miles from his centre of operations. For the first three years Lever rented the house, perhaps biding his time to see how the new factory did, finally buying it outright in 1891.
Alterations and improvements
As with all his other homes, Lever carried out extensive alterations and improvements on the property. The most striking of these was the creation in 1902 of a Music Room, designed by JJ Talbot. This was an impressive, Renaissance style, space that doubled as a Picture Gallery. Music Rooms were a common feature of ‘merchant’ houses of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They provided a room for entertaining and more importantly impressing peers. This top-lit room with its tunnel vault, intricate woodwork, two-storey ingle and organ screen was a very visible testament not only to Lever’s love of art but also his wealth
Free gallery talks will be held at the Lady Lever Art Gallery at 13.00 on 17 and 25 April 2007.