North Hall Restoration
Stowe House Preservation Trust our currently in the final stage of completing the restoration of the North Hall.
In 2014 we restored the magnificent 1730s William Kent ceiling and now after further research and analysis we are restoring the floor and walls.
After consultation with expert advisors and from reviewing the findings from detailed analysis and images, as well as the rediscovery of the Laocoon statue that would have been originally in place here, we have made the decision to restore the room to how it would have looked in the 1840s, when Queen Victoria visited the house.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Stowe House for three days in 1845, causing much excitement and festivities.However, it was this key event that was the final tipping point in the finacial donwfall of the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos - three years later, the family were forced to sell everything on the estate in a great auction to try and pay off their debts!
From paint analysis we can see that the room has been decorated up to 16 times and that the walls were altered on several occasions.
In the 1840s the walls were painted in a pale stone colour, with a lighter shade of stone applied to the woodwork. Given the way that paint wears over time, it is not possible to select the exact shade from a palette therefore an element of judgement is required to get as close to the colour as we can.
Trying to discover what the floor covering was in the 1840s has been a much harder process. The current floor was thought to be put in by the school in the 1960s and we have no records of what was removed.
Therefore, we have had to compare various contemporary images, documents and written accounts (many of which are in the Huntingdon Library in America) to work out what was in place.
A press image from Queen Victoria's shows a black and white checked floor but we know from contemporary sources written at the time that carpet was actually in place during her visit.
‘The floors are all completely cover’d with carpets, even the North Hall’
Elizabeth George journal entry—23rd January 1845
The 1848 auction sales catalogue also point to this: ‘The floor was also covered with a carpet of marble pattern, manufactured expressly for this Hall and the adjourning corridors.’
However photographs of the house from the 1870s onwards show a white stone floor and it is this that we will be returning it to, placing a hard wearing limestone following the current layout.
The North Hall will re-open to visitors in March 2019 but if you would like to discover more about the restoration work taking place, join us on one of hard hat tours —see our website for further details www.stowehouse.org
The Stowe House Preservation Trust is an independent charity formed to fund and manage the restoration of Stowe House. We are currently fundraising to restore the State Dining Room, for details on how to support us please contact- firstname.lastname@example.org