The UK is layered with rich history and architectural beauty, tradition and craft. Preservation and restoration of such structures and monuments is crucial in maintaining the thread that continues to share our story and keep our heritage alive. I am a trustee of Heritage of London Trust (HOLT) which is an independent heritage charity, set up in 1980 by the Greater London Council to rescue historic buildings and monuments.
Earlier this year we hosted Heritage of London Trust (HOLT) at The Soho Hotel where I joined Director of HOLT, Dr Nicola Stacey for a series of unique ‘in conversation’ talks. The event celebrated three talented craftspeople who are all helping to restore London’s lost heritage whilst honouring the fascinating histories of each site.
A recent project that HOLT are working on is at Boston Manor House in Hounslow, West London. Here they have been restoring the manor’s 18th century wallpaper.
Wallpaper is such an integral part of British design and of course to our interiors. It adds a layer of charm, character and comfort to a space and this project is an exciting example of the importance of maintaining such a heritage. Boston Manor was once the site of a mediaeval estate, later owned in the 16th century by Sir Thomas Gresham. In 1623, the site was inherited by Lady Mary Reade who built the core of the current house. In 1670 the house and its estate was sold to James Clitherow, who altered and extended it. The house remained with the Clitherow family until 1924 when it was sold to Brentford Urban District Council (and is now owned by Hounslow Council).
What is so incredibly unique about this building is that it retains some of the rarest and only surviving examples of 18th century classical ruins wallpaper in the world. Dating back to 1757, it was inspired by the Grand Tour, where expeditions were made by young aristocrats to the ancient sites of Greece and Rome. It illustrates a neo-classical sphinx on a pedestal in front of an obelisk and two young men enthralled in the site. It also highlights ancient architectural debris with foliage growing from buildings which capture a sense of abandonment.
The paper is linen rag based and is printed in four sections, glued directly to the walls. After 250 years, the paper in its dilapidated condition was given a HOLT grant to aid the preservation of this rare piece of history. The wallpaper was restored by Allyson McDermott Studio, an expert on conserving and recreating historic wallpapers. Final touches were made once rehung in the manor and parts of the paper were recreated to restore the west wall which had been missing.
This restoration project is a refreshing and exciting example of the importance of maintaining our visual history and I can’t wait to visit this coming autumn when it reopens. We hope you too are inspired to visit and revel in a piece of our heritage. Boston Manor is located at: Boston Manor Road, Brentford TW8 9JX for more information visit: heritageoflondon.org