Restoration Intern Fit For A Queen

3 August 2015

The State Drawing Room, also called the Temple Room, is one of the three remaining state rooms in Stowe House yet to be restored. When this does happen, the beautiful ceiling will be re-gilded. The current silver substitute was a gift from a group of old students’ parents, who chose the slightly cheaper option…

The State Drawing Room was a plush and opulent space; a painting of this room in the Royal Collection shows it adorned with rich red damask walls and colourful carpets – furnishings hardly practical for a room sometimes used as an overflow school canteen to 750 pupils, which would come under fire from flicked peas or snorted chocolate mousse. Stowe House Preservation Trust must therefore decide how best to restore these areas, taking into consideration the practical requirements of a working school.

However, restoration began this summer with a painting rehang. A portrait of Queen Victoria was hung next to the 2nd Duke, who had spent thousands of pounds refurbishing and redecorating the mansion in preparation of her royal visit. Some of this money was spent in North Hall where a shiny new and extremely expensive black and white marble floor was installed. The head housemaid recorded a remark from the Queen during her visit: Victoria had previously turned down an offer to purchase the carpet in her bedroom because she had found it too costly… On this occasion, Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville had created a palace more than fit for a queen.

Upon her arrival, tenants and labourers gathered on the approaches to the Estate; orchestras and police were drafted in from London. When the Queen made her visit in 1845, she had planned to stay for a day. But Victoria, and Albert with her, were enchanted by Stowe and were entertained for two nights and three days before leaving.

It was only two years after royalty had resided at Stowe that the bailiffs broke into the ducal palace and took everything they could get their hands on. The Duke was bankrupt.