The boudoir at Bowhill House – which maintains its original décor dating back to 1834 – has undergone an extensive conservation project to restore it to a bygone era.
The room’s rare, hand-painted Chinese wallpaper has been painstakingly preserved by conservators in a process that took some 14 weeks.
Conservators Mark Sandiford and Louise Drover carried out the project at the historic home of the Duke of Buccleuch and the results are now on show for all to see.
The intricate wallpaper in the boudoir, which was a favourite retreat for the late Duchess, is believed to be amongst just two examples left in UK. While it had been badly damaged over the years by silverfish, the delicate process of restoring it by hand has ensured it will be preserved for future generations.
Mark and Louise, who are amongst the world’s most respected paper and leather restorers, had to carefully remove the wallpaper in its individual lengths to conserve it. Each piece was washed, old linings removed and tears and holes repaired. New linings of hand-made Japanese paper were applied.
The conserved wallpaper was rehung in its original position and any losses carefully repainted.
Mark was delighted with the opportunity to carry out conservation work in the boudoir, which is one of the most historically intact rooms in the house, reflecting its original grandeur from the early 1800s.
He said: “We worked 8am-6pm, 10 days on, four days off, for 14 weeks to conserve the beautiful wallpaper in Bowhill’s Boudoir. The room has 17 lengths of wall covering and each one had to be individually removed, washed, repaired and relined.
“The primary objective was to ensure the physical and chemical stability of the wallpaper, aesthetic improvements were a secondary objective but very welcome as the wallpaper was quite dirty having been on the walls since 1834. This project should ensure that people can continue to enjoy the wallpaper for the foreseeable future.
“The room truly reflects the era in which the house was built. It is unusual to see original features like retained so thoroughly, so I am thrilled we were able to conserve this beautiful Chinese wallpaper so it can be viewed and enjoyed for years to come.”
The room can be seen by the public with two tours per day running at 1pm and 3pm entitled ‘Boudoir and Bedrooms’. This will also give visitors a glimpse of the Duke’s study, the Victorian dressing room as well as some of the upstairs bedrooms which are used in the present day.
Mark has previously undertaken similar conservation projects for the Swedish royal family, Blenheim Palace, Woburn Abbey, Longleat and many of the National Trust homes.
He is one of only two people in the world formally qualified to do restoration work of this kind.
Scott Macdonald, head of collections and conservation for Buccleuch, added: “We felt the importance of this room, and the fact that we want it to survive for another 200 years, merited the investment in resources. We are delighted with the results which hopefully achieve what was required, without losing the essence of a room so redolent of a lost era”.
For more information on Bowhill House and Country Estate and its opening times please visit www.bowhillhouse.co.uk or call 01750 22204