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Historic saloon at Brighton Pavilion brought back to life
Months of intricate work will go into recreating the “magnificent decorative scheme” in the centrepiece of Brighton’s Royal Pavilion.
The Saloon in the iconic building created for the Prince of Wales, later King George IV, is being restored to its original scheme for the first time – previously untouched because of “so many unknowns” about the original decoration.
But a fragment of the paper dating from 1823, secreted behind a papermache architrave until 2006, has unlocked some of the secrets of the decoration of the room.
Combined with a Nash View – original watercolours in each room translated into prints – and Robert Jones’ accounts for the original work he did, they have pieced together what the room looked like and are following the 1823 design scheme in gold, silver and crimson.
In-house conservationist Anne Sowden has 14 months to recreate the intrinsic pearl and silver wallpaper dating from circa 1823 on the high walls in the 35ft diameter room – carefully matching the small silver stencil around the entire room.
She said: “It’s a challenge. I have been here 27 years and this really is the big one.”
A wool carpet, specially created silk drapes and four pieces of furniture on Royal Loan will complete the room by October 2015. It is hoped work will start in October.
Ms Sowden has been watching the stockmarket to buy platinum for the conservation work when prices slumped below the cost of gold.
The decorative artist and glass conservator added: “It’s going to be one of those things that I won’t quite believe until I see it. It’s just an unknown.
“There are lots of reflective surfaces and they would have used oil fired candles at night, with a flickering light which moved around the room. Imagine how mysterious it would have been.”
The landmark £320,000 project has just been boosted with grants of £100,000 from The Monument Trust and £50,000 from the J Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust.
Janita Bagshawe, director of the Royal Pavilion and Museums, said: “These grants will help restore the magnificent decorative scheme of the Saloon, for the benefit and enjoyment of the millions of people who will visit the Royal Pavilion over the coming years.”
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