20 July 2016
Worcester Tea Set Returns to Firle Place
By Deborah Gage
Soon after he inherited Firle Place upon his grandfather’s death, Henry Charles Gage 5th Viscount Gage (1854-1912) set about refurbishing the house. Accompanied by festive celebrations, he married Leila Georgina Peel, second daughter of Frederick Peel and Adelaide, daughter of Lord Sudeley in 1894. By the turn of the century the house had been redecorated throughout, particularly the gallery, the drawing room and the bedrooms. The terrace and balustrades were also added to the gardens. Leila was undeniably beautiful, amusing, musical and gifted at painting. She was well-known for her love of entertaining, and she arranged many large gatherings at Firle, including visits from German royalty including Princess Henry of Battenberg and Her Highness Princess Louisa Augusta of Schleswig-Holstein, who were in England before the commencement of the First World War.
A Royal Worcester tea set, made for Leila, bearing her monogram ‘LG’ and surmounted by a Viscount’s coronet has just been purchased and returned to Firle. Comprising a tray, a teapot, a sugar bowl, and two cups and saucers, it is decorated with spring and summer flowers. It is also rare in the Sèvres style, with corresponding raise gilding, imitating its French counterpart.
Clearly purchased during the extensive redecoration carried out at Firle by the 5th Viscount and Viscountess, the latter having an eye for elegance and fashion, it is fitting that this small piece of family history has been returned to the house and collection. Leila was the grandmother of the present 8th Viscount Gage.