The Uncovering Of The Cherubs
We are currently undergoing some restoration work on the amazing murals within our Great Hall. These were painted in early 1715 and are superimposed over the original 15th Century structure of the building.
On the east wall of the Great Hall we have a 17th Century organ, which is said to be one of the most important surviving musical instruments of this time. Surrounding the organ are the paintings which have been painted in such a way that the organ appears to be sited under blue skies with characters and cherubs playing instruments all around whilst holding back theatrical red curtains. As is typical for the baroque period, it is a visual play on the senses and creates a three dimensional effect in paint.
In the mid- sixties, the paintings all around the hall were cleaned and restored below the wall plat, however, the scaffolding was never high enough to reach above this point, which meant the area around the organ canopy was never completed.
We have now employed a master restorer to take on two major tasks within the hall. The first is to clean and restore the murals and the second is to restore and repair the damage to the ceiling panels which was caused by a ceiling leak, which caused water to drip down behind the panels and travel through the plaster and push off the paint. This has now been repaired.
First of all the paintings have had all the surface dirt removed. Following this, solvents have been very carefully applied with cotton swabs to remove as much of the varnish as possible without damaging the painting underneath. Finally the restorer retouches the paint to the areas where there have been losses and matches up the already cleaned areas. During this process the restorer has uncovered two cherubs; one to the right of the organ, which is playing a trumpet and one to the left, which is peeking out from behind the red curtain. The blue sky has also been revealed and at the top the theatrical red curtain has been painted as if it has been gathered together and hung on a gold curtain pole. None of this has been clearly seen for over 200 years.
Now the repair work to the plaster panels is taking place recreating a grained wood effect, creating the finished look of a wood panelled ceiling.
This is complex work and hugely time consuming. It requires a very steady hand and strength like I have never seen. All this is taking place high up on the scaffolding, using bright lights and a restorer who can often be found working into the night.
For more information and to view this outstanding mural yourself please visit us on Sunday from 12th April to 4th October 2015, where our tour guides are on hand to answer any questions.