The Friends of Eastgate House would like to thank the Rochester Bridge Trust for their very generous donation to reveal art at Eastgate House that has been hidden for centuries.
The art, located on the upper floors of the house, is a selection of late 16th and early 17th century wall paintings which have been covered by layers of paint, lime wash and distemper. They are being painstakingly revealed thanks to a grant of £2,000 from the Trust, The Friends are match-funding this grant to support the the conservation of the house.
The Trust’s Senior and Junior Wardens Russell Cooper and Phil Filmer visited the house to meet Susan Haydock, Chairman of the Friends group and conservator Tom Organ, of Arte Conservation.
Russell Cooper said: “As a medieval charity, the Trust is pleased to be able to support the restoration and preservation of local heritage through its grant scheme. These wall paintings are a remarkable find from the time Elizabeth I ruled the land, and the medieval bridge linked Rochester and Strood.” www.rbt.org.uk
Tests to the hidden areas show quite extensive areas of decoration remain under the paint. This includes a complete ‘strap work’ decoration made up of ribbon-like forms interwoven into a geometric pattern, while in the attic a man’s face stares out, possibly part of a nautical scene from around 400 years ago.
Conservator Tom Organ added: “Revealing these paintings requires hours of careful, painstaking work. We work under binocular magnification to delicately remove the overlying paint layers millimetre by millimetre using small scalpels, spending hundreds of hours to reveal a few square meters. Post-Reformation wall paintings only rarely come to light and the discovery of two schemes at Eastgate House is very exciting.
“Already we have revealed far more decoration than we had originally hoped, and in better condition than anticipated. To be able to uncover these works – to be the first people to see them for hundreds of years – is something very special. To find a face staring back at you is truly extraordinary.”
Susan Haydock, Chairman of the Friends of Eastgate House, commented: “The artwork being uncovered is a truly remarkable find and we are grateful to the Rochester Bridge Trust for this donation, which contributes towards what will become a striking addition to the renovation of the house.”
Thanks to Erica at the Rochester Bridge Trust for giving permission for the Friends to share extracts from their press release and to Mark Turner for the use of the above photograph.
For media information about Rochester Bridge Trust, please contact Erica Jones or Philip Jones at Maxim, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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