Chance discovery of original Victorian wall stencilling has shaped direction of interior decoration in both the Library and Palé’s grand entrance hall.

March 3rd 2016

To be honest, blowing our own trumpets is something neither of us are particularly given to. However, this week we have finished decorating the Library and we are thrilled with the result; not bad at all for a telecoms non-exec and former headteacher.

On the 22nd of January, John and his team uncovered some original stencilled decoration on the Library walls. They very carefully removed the flock wallpaper which, incidentally, had done a great job protecting the walls. With no small amount of trepidation we contacted our local conservation officer, sending photographs of the discovery. She in turn consulted Cadw and took some advice. Following a site visit we were given permission to replicate and, where possible, preserve the original design. We traced the original designs and contacted the Stencil Library, who turned the slightly wobbly tracings into perfect designs and sent us the completed colour separated stencils within 48 hours – an amazing service.

We were determined to complete the work ourselves. When we fall in love with a building the way we have with Palé Hall it’s not enough to just pay others to do all the work. We know our limitations; we can’t plumb, we don’t touch electrics and forget plastering. Frankly, there were those Doubting Thomases who thought we wouldn’t manage it, but Alan and I are finishers and now the faded chrysalis has turned into a beautiful butterfly. We have managed to wholly preserve all the original gilding. The rest of the paint was too far gone, crisscrossed as it was with more modern wiring, burglar alarms and fire sensors, much of the plaster cracked, filled, sanded and filled again over the ages. We have used natural pigment paints and matched colours as best we could to an authentic Victorian palette. Someone remarked that it’s like walking into one of those special museum rooms – it is, except here you will be able to put your feet up in front of the fire, play a game of snooker or bagatelle, or have a wonderful private meal with family, friends or á deux. It’s done and we have a huge sense of achievement. The Library will always have a special place in our hearts.

A stop press item. The guys took up the carpet today and found some lovely parquet in the bay windows. It just gets better and better.

On other fronts, it is amazing what you can find people to do. The dining room was marred by very badly scratched windows and we didn’t want to change the old glass if we could help it. Chicago Glass came and polished the scratches out – it took all day but they have done a remarkable job.

We went down to the Hotelympia exhibition in London earlier this week, sampling coffee, seeing the Charvet cooker reps, and talking staff uniforms. So many things available; who knew we needed an umbrella wrapping machine (or not); in fact, who knew such a thing even existed? Next time we shall know to skip breakfast, and will definitely make sure we are not driving home afterwards, such were the tempting goodies.

It’s been another good week. Next week I hope to report that the top floor is finished except for carpets. Clwyd, our site foreman, is doing a great job managing this very complex project. Once again we are grateful.

Wishing you a slightly belated Happy St David’s Day.

A&A