Conservation and Restoration

Although the delay in reopening is a setback, much work has been completed including the project by Boden and Ward to reinstate and restore the curtain walls that enclose the Great Court to the rear of the Abbey.

These impressive structures were in a state of decay due to the nature the stone used to build them in the eighteenth century. Following a lengthy planning process they have now been completely rebuilt, using Portland stone and traditional materials with modern engineering.

The curtain walls project is just one aspect of our current programme of works. Dramatic changes to the guest arrival are now underway, and thanks to a grant from Historic England, we have restored the east range of the North Court and reinstated the original roofline, not seen since it was destroyed by fire in 1947.

Guided both by rigorous research and the requirements of modern family life, the Abbey’s interiors are being conserved and re-presented, underpinned by essential services work and using traditional materials and methods.

Major highlights of our conservation programme include the restoration of Issac de Caus’s 17th-century Grotto with the famous shell-lined interior at its centre. A remarkable survival through successive architectural change, this fantastical room is unique and will be at the heart of the home, serving as the new guest entrance.

For the first time in over 250 years and following a five-year conservation programme, the Mortlake Tapestries will hang once again in the room for which they were commissioned by the 5th Earl of Bedford, and elsewhere wall-finishes will be recreated from historic evidence. The Long Gallery and the family’s Dining Room, with its famous collection of Venetian paintings by Canaletto, will be redecorated to reflect the taste of the present generation, informed and guided by the past.

 

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