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Conservation in a unique Grade I listed Cornish stately home

— 19 Jun 2019 by Jonathan Rhind


The Port Eliot Estate is a Grade I listed house, park and gardens


The burst pipe caused damage to the decorations on three floors of the property


The damaged historic wallpaper can be carefully removed, cleaned and rehung

Port Eliot grade I listed house conservation thumbnail

Port Eliot is a wonderfully idiosyncratic house. The remains of a 12th Century Augustinian Priory form the core of the house which has then evolved into a stylish residence remodelled by the great classicist Sir John Soane in 1806. The house has had a number of flamboyant owners, and is home to an important collection of historic art including a mural by celebrated 20th Century artist, Robert Lenkiewicz.

Sadly, a burst pipe in the attic caused a major flood through three storeys of principal rooms destroying the decorations and bringing down the ceiling of the saloon.

The work to repair the damage has involved painstaking assessment of the repairs to each element to carefully restore the building to its former state, ensuring that the new repairs do not stand out against 200 year old decorations.

Some of the trickiest parts will be repair to the wallpaper, which although not from the original Soane decorative scheme, is mid-19th Century. Dark green wallpaper from the Victorian period can contain arsenic which was used to create a pleasing vibrant green in a compound with copper. However, in this instance, no arsenic is present, and the wallpaper can be restored. The defective sheets need to be removed from the wall cleaned of the salt and flood residues, stuck onto a tissue paper background and then rehung on the walls once the plaster has been repaired. The work is being undertaken by wallpaper conservator, Allyson McDermott, a leading authority on historic wallpaper.

To read more about the Port Eliot estate, and their annual festival see their websites, and other links below to members of the conservation team.

Paulcarpenterassociates – structural engineers

Seanwheatleyplasterer -


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