This week we’ve had a wallpaper conservator, Mark Sandiford, back with us.
He’s been with us to reveal more of the wallpaper originally in up the servants’ back stairs of the house. We knew we had some there as we had some of it exposed but we wanted to know how much more.
Originally this part of the house looked quite different to how it does now. The space which is now an entrance hall is half of what used to be the Butler’s Pantry and the archway was originally a solid wall. Entrance to the Butler’s Pantry was through both the door round the corner and through the cupboard which now houses all sorts of fuses. The cupboards with our servants exhibition were against this wall and would have held glassware and china for the dining table. The butler – or housekeeper as the family didn’t have a butler for very long – would be able to see into the court yard for any visitors.
As you can see the door is a later addition – created after a lift was removed in the 1970s which had been installed for Mrs Beale to get to the upper floors. When the house was split up into flats in the 70s this was used as a main entrance for them.
Mark was able to carefully peel back the later lining paper to reveal the remains of the paper underneath. He has also cut small squares in the paper elsewhere (see if you can spot them!) to see how far the wallpaper extends. This is the biggest piece remaining.
As you can see there are two distinct colours. Mark believes that the greener bit on the right is the original paper put up by the Beales which was protected by a later internal door frame. The yellowy piece next to it he thinks is a later addition which was also protected by painting it with size – a gelatinous liquid – to protect it.
We are now raising money so we are able to put the paper back up on the back stairs through our raffle this year so we hope to get it up before the end of February 2017. If you would like to help please buy a ticket!