Saturday, 9 February 2013

Historic Redecoration

Yesterday, two hundred (or was it more?) people crowded into the Old Schoolroom opposite the Parsonage to eat from a sumptuous buffet, drink wine and meet friends from the Brontë Society and interested members of the public. After brief speeches - from Sally McDonald, Chair of Brontë Society Council, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Terence Suthers and Professor Ann Sumner, the new Executive Director, the crowd split into groups to cross the narrow road and enter the Museum to see for themselves.

In the photo - Ann Sumner and Sally McDonald.

All of the refurbishments are historically accurate, the transformed Parsonage representing the culmination of two and a half years of painstaking analysis, using up-to-date forensic techniques. In summer, 2010, the University of Lincoln and historic design consultant Allyson McDermott were approached by the Parsonage to begin an analysis of the available evidence, with a view to coming up with a new, more historically accurate scheme of redecoration.

As well as historical and scientific analysis, a wide range of contemporary sources, including watercolours and letters by the Brontës, was also referenced. This rigorous £60,000 programme has informed the creation of bespoke wallpapers, new curtains and painstakingly woven rugs.

It was all there as we looked around, without some of the curtains, which will be coming soon to add the finishing touches. To give a few examples, Mr Brontë's Study has been distempered in plain white, because no evidence could be found that it was ever papered, and the Dining Room now follows Charlotte's own decorative scheme from the early 1850s. The curtains are still in the process of being specially woven, in crimson, to match Elizabeth Gaskell's description. According to forensic analysis, the room was papered both before and after Charlotte's 'gentrification', and the chosen paper is a contemporary design, in scarlet to match the curtains. Several years ago, a scrap of wallpaper was found in Branwell's Studio which can now be dated to the Brontë period. Allyson McDermott matched it with an almost identical sample - also contemporaneous with the Brontës' time - which was found inside a housemaid's cupboard at Kensington Palace. The wallpaper has been reproduced.

So visitors in the coming season can look forward to an even better experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Museum looks wonderful - truly homely and warm.
The Friday evening was fantastic. Just one small query with theis review - the Chairman's speech was not brief.