State Rooms

The State Rooms on the first floor (piano nobile) were sumptuously decorated by William Kent, with painted ceilings and suites of carved and gilded furniture. These rooms would originally have been entered via outside steps leading to the Stone Hall, and were designed to impress Sir Robert Walpole’s distinguished guests. They were used for entertaining on a grand scale, and were also the backdrop for some of Walpole’s most valuable paintings.

The State Bedroom, with the famous Shell bed, was hung with green velvet, then the most expensive material, with silver gilt embroidery and fringing. Venus’s shell on the headboard is echoed in the ceiling, tapestries and fireplace . On the other side of the house, the dining-room, or Marble Parlour, is dedicated to Bacchus, and bunches of grapes and vine leaves appear on the marble chimney-piece, on the plaster ceilings and carved above the doors. The overmantel frames the Sacrifice to Bacchus, by Michael Rysbrack, while arches framed in different sorts of marble lead to a hidden recess.

Walpole spared no expense in the decoration of these rooms, although they would rarely have been used, as he only visited Norfolk twice a year.