Stairs

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Visitors would have originally entered East Cliff Hall from the Russell-Cotes Road entrance, leading into a vestibule and cloakroom. The impressive double-return staircase provided a dramatic, sweeping entrance into the house. The staircase is surmounted by a bespoke glass dome which features a night sky, shooting stars, clouds, bats and owls. Heavenly motifs can be spotted throughout East Cliff Hall. The dome was most likely made by Gateshead Stained Glass Company, which also made the original skylight in the Main Hall, and the British heraldic glass in the Dining Room. Annie’s monogram ‘ARC’ is inlaid on the original entrance hall floor. Merton always referred to the house as belonging to Annie and the collections to him. The walls of the staircase are in the typical Victorian three-part arrangement, with the dado at the base decorated with a bold stencil. The cornice is made of gilded copies of sections of the frieze found on the Parthenon Temple in Athens. The reproduction frieze is 17 meters long and was designed in 1893 by William Scott Morton for The Tynecastle Company. Merton may have seen a copy of the frieze in the studio home of Lord Frederic Leighton when he visited the artist to purchase the painting Perseus and Andromeda: A Study. Unfortunately, Merton’s decorators installed the panel incorrectly as the sacrificial procession is walking away from the seated deities.

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