Gilding (And Painting) The Combermere Lily

Work will begin on the restoration of the ceiling of The Library very soon, and Combermere Abbey is very pleased to announce that the work will be carried out by Hare & Humphreys, who describe themselves as “Britain’s leading company specialising in the interior decoration, conservation and restoration of historic buildings”.

To quote them at even greater length, they “provide decorating and restoration services, paint analysis, colour consultancy and exacting project management, together with an in-house team of dedicated art, craft and trade experts advising and using modern and traditional materials and techniques as appropriate”.

The Library is the grandest and most fascinating room in Combermere Abbey, and has been so for half a millennium. It was created within the existing Cistercian Abbey during the reign of Henry VII as The Abbot’s Lodging. It was the size you see today, and recent researches have shown that there was a baldacchino – a raised dais with an elevated canopy – under which the Abbot would be seated in splendour.

RESTO Library                                          The early Sixteenth century Library at Combermere

The roof of the Abbot’s Lodging had – and still has – a glorious medieval hammerbeam roof (the age of which will be identified using dendrochronology very soon) made of local oak, which was later obscured by a plaster ceiling with coving. The Viscount Combermere added the twenty two heraldic shields, all relating to his family, in the 1830s. It is the plaster ceiling and the armourial shields which Hare & Humphrey’s will be working early in 2014.

The company was founded by Peter Hare & Paul Humphreys in 1987, and they have worked on many of Britain’s greatest historic buildings and structures, including Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Burlington House (home to The Royal Academy), Dover Castle, and the 202 foot-high monument to The Great Fire of London at the north end of London Bridge. You may recall that Windsor Castle – which is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and has been inhabited continuously for a thousand years – suffered terrible damage in 1992 as a result of a fire. Hare & Humphrey’s work on the restoration was rewarded with a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty the Queen.

gl gllWorking two hundred feet up on The Monument, and creating a trompe l’oeil effect in a private house in London

More recently the company worked on the nation’s gift of the Royal Barge Gloriana, which led the Thames River Pageant in June, to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. You can read more about this work by clicking here and going to the firm’s website.

gloria-918x418-918x418                                The royal barge Gloriana, built for the Queen’s diamond jubilee

At Combermere they will very carefully take paint samples, analyse them in laboratory conditions, and restore and re-paint to bring the surfaces back to their original glory. It will be terrific to welcome Hare & Humphrey’s to the Abbey, and watch their progress. Every brush stroke (well, nearly) will be recorded for this archive, and updates will appear here regularly.