The Saloon is the room into which the 18th century visitor would have entered directly from the Marble Hall; its opulence and warmth are designed in deliberate contrast to the classical and cool grandeur of the hall.
The room features two great master paintings. Firstly, Peter Paul Ruben’s depiction of the return of the holy family from Egypt, which is unusual as it depicts Christ as a boy of four or five years of age, rather than as a baby or a man. And, on the opposite wall, Anthony van Dyck’s portrait of the Duke of Arenburg. The Duke is about to gallop off to take part in battle and it was only after the painting was cleaned that it was possible to make out the massed army in the background.
The crimson wall hangings are somewhat faded now, but are nevertheless original and are made from a mixture of wool, linen and silk, known as caffoy.
The Saloon is still used today for the same purpose for which it was designed - entertaining large numbers of people. In 1865, a grand ball was held here in honour of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Guests entered by the north door into what was then called the Egyptian Hall, where flowers were intertwined between the pillars. The Saloon was illuminated by 300 waxlights and the dancing went on until the early hours.
At Christmas, a large fir tree that reaches almost to the ceiling, is placed in front of the west windows and forms the centre-piece of the room for Christmas celebrations. Traditionally, the family gathers around the tree on Christmas morning to open their presents.