Impressive restoration work on view as Stowe House near Buckingham reopens

Stately home will be open to the public every day throughout the summer for guided tours

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 10:43 am
Conservator at work in the State Dining Room
Conservator at work in the State Dining Room

Stowe House reopened to the public this week, with some newly restored features for visitors to see.

Since January, conservators have been hard at work on a scaffolding deck, restoring and conserving the gold-leafed painted ceiling in the State Dining Room.

The curved coving features delicate floral decoration intertwined with fish, animals and insects, while the central part of the ceiling and four roundels in the coving show scenes from classical mythology.

Conservator at work in the State Dining Room

Six months of painstaking work by the contractor Messenger BCR and conservators Chroma Conservation have brought the badly damaged ceiling back to its original glory.

The conservation team started by repairing flaking paintwork, so that subsequent cleaning did not damage any fragile original material.

With the painted decoration secure, the whole ceiling was cleaned with a five per cent ammonium citrate solution, gently removing years of accumulated grease and dirt.

By mid-February, the surface was already looking better but there were substantial areas of damaged paint and many surface cracks that required filling.

Corner of the State Dining Room ceiling following restoration

The large octagonal paintings and the smaller inset decorative panels were all removed for cleaning, which enabled a check of the underlying structure.

The team also wanted to be sure that the original octagonal paintings, replaced in 1817 by those we now see, had not survived under the surface.

A layer of 'isolating varnish' was applied before repairs and redecoration so that the original surface and paints were preserved and that any work completed in this programme could be reversed if necessary.

The result has exceeded expectations, and volunteer guides are looking forward to showing visitors the results of this highly skilled work, as well as the rest of the restored State Rooms, from 11am to 4pm every day throughout the summer.

Corner of the State Dining Room ceiling before restoration

Adult tickets are £9.50, National Trust adult tickets £7.50 and kids go free. To book, visit www.stowehouse.org

Stowe House is open to the public on more than 230 days a year. The Stowe House Preservation Trust is an independent charity, separate from the National Trust and Stowe School, which is responsible for the restoration and maintenance of Stowe House and for presenting it to the public. It depends on visitor income and donations to fund its restoration work.