Victorian carriage donated to museum at Arlington Court

The carriage was donated to the National Trust by the great-grandson of Thomas Pedler, the coachman who drove it for the Chichester family

(C)National Trust/Richard Gregor Due to its size and age, a specialist art handling company transported the carriage to Arlington Court.

The National Trust’s Carriage Museum at Arlington Court in Devon has welcomed a stunning new addition to its collection of over 40 vehicles.

The brightly painted Victorian carriage was once owned by Robert Chichester who lived at Hall Mansion near Bishop’s Tawton. He was a member of the Chichester family – one of the most prominent in North Devon – and a cousin of Colonel John Chichester of Arlington Court.

It was donated to the Trust by Mr Garth Pedler, whose great-grandfather, Thomas Pedler, drove the carriage for the Chichester family, taking them on trips back and forth from their home and into town.

Moved by this family connection, Mr Pedler had jumped at the chance to acquire the carriage when it came up for sale in 1996.

National Trust/Steven Haywood Phillipa Turner, Collections and House Manager at Arlington Court, cleans the head and dash of the carriage.

The black roof over the passenger compartment contrasts the carriage’s bright yellow exterior, and the Chichester family crest is still visible on the doors. Inside, the walls and seats of the carriage are luxuriously lined with silk.

Originally designed as a family travelling carriage or town chariot, it was converted later in the 19th century into a slightly larger and less formal carriage for regular family use.

(c)National Trust/Steven Haywood The carriage is lined with plush silk, thus providing a comfortable journey for the original owner, Robert Chichester, and his family.

Initial conservation work was carried out by Mr Pedler and will continue under the Trust’s care.

‘It is wonderful to have this important and fascinating carriage at Arlington,’ said Phillippa Turner, Collections and House Manager at Arlington Court.

‘Not only does it provide us with the first Chichester carriage at the Carriage Museum, but it was also modified by a local company, Pettle of Barnstaple, within ten miles of Arlington Court. This means that we can learn more about local craftspeople and the business of 19th century carriage building.’

The carriage is now on display at Arlington Court’s Carriage Museum, which is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until 19 December 2021.