|Tudor Place Drawing Room,
Armistead Peter 3rd.
by Mandy Katz, Communications Officer
In the folio book on Tudor Place he published in 1969, Armistead Peter 3rd dwells lovingly on many of the mansion’s objects and features. One of these is the Drawing Room mantel, “which must have been made here,” he writes, “as it is of exactly the same design as the simpler mantels up in the bedrooms.” The Drawing Room version, however, is graced by a special feature, one that called to mind the passage of time.
“I have always particularly liked the carving of Father Time with his broken scythe, sleeping, and giving the feeling that time stands still for those who live in this house,” wrote Armistead, the last of six generations of Custis-Peters who would live here. “It is a charming symbolism.
|Father Time with his broken
“As I stand before this figure of ‘sleeping time’ I think that I should recall some of the things that took place in this room during my lifetime,” he continued. “First of all were my Christmas parties with a splendid tree in the center of the north side of the room. My great-grandmother [Britannia] Kennon was always present, and there is a winged Victorian armchair in the garret on the flat arm of which may be seen the fine lines made by her fingernails as she tapped them quietly while watching the festivities…
“I am happy to say that we had many happy gatherings of our friends in these rooms throughout the years, over which my wife presided with the beauty of one of the little porcelain shepherdesses that might have come to life and slipped out of the cabinet for the occasion. I can still see her in the blue dress that I loved best, sitting on the end of the sofa, waiting for her guests to arrive.”
| I can still see her sitting on the end of the sofa,
waiting for her guests to arrive.
There are many opportunities in the coming month to picture these touching scenes for yourself while making your own holiday memories. Our regular, hourly docent tours show the house dressed for a gay 1920s Christmas that Armistead himself might have presided over with his wife, Caroline, a society beauty who spent much of her childhood in France. The same settings will sparkle by night on December 1, during Tudor Nights, our quarterly, adults-only members’ celebration. (Non-members may attend for $15, space permitting, or are invited to take the occasion to support Tudor Place by joining us.) And guests of all ages can enjoy a tour of one, two, three or four historic houses, all decked for the season, during the “Holidays Through History” open house, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 3.
Please come see us this winter and reflect for yourself on a place where time “sleeps,” yet never truly stands still.