In Spring 1929, the Cheek family took what can only be described as a “trip of a lifetime.” For an estimated three months, Leslie Sr., Mabel, and Huldah Cheek journeyed across the Atlantic by boat, arriving in Great Britain on a quest to seek and find inspiration for the development of their new home, “Cheekwood.” The family, along with their newly hired architect Bryant Fleming, wasted no time with their site-seeing plans and high-level shopping.
By March 21, signs of Mrs. Cheek’s shopping activity began to show as invoices and receipts were delivered to her room at London’s Mayfair Hotel.[i] Fortunately, the family saved many of these receipts, providing us a glimpse into the art galleries and antique stores Mr. and Mrs. Cheek frequented on the trip. Items purchased ranged from decorative furnishings to historic, architectural elements from well-known, recently demolished estates and homes. Every purchase was used to shape the Cheek’s vision for Cheekwood.
Pasted into the pages of family scrapbooks are postcards and souvenir photographs from Canterbury Cathedral, Rockingham Castle, and Chatsworth House, suggesting that while buying for their own home, perhaps Mabel and Leslie were also finding inspiration in the historic sites they visited. One photo of Chatsworth House shows a clear connection between the Grand Staircase located at the English estate and the hand-wrought iron railing the Cheeks sourced on this very trip for the First Floor staircase.
[i]March 26, 1929 D.S. Mann Furniture & Decorations Receipt to Mrs. Leslie Cheek, addresses payment to Mrs. Cheek’s temporary address at the May Fair Hotel, W.1. (Cheekwood Cheek Family Archives)