Roof Repairs To Aid Mural Preservation At Historic Ickworth House

By Culture24 Staff | 27 January 2009
a close up of a damaged wall mural featuring a bird

Detail of the Pompeian Room at Ickworth and the damage to the wall paintings. Image © Tobit Curteis Associates 2008

The National Trust and Cambridge-based Freeland Rees Roberts Architects have announced the commencement of a £225,000 project to repair the roof and safeguard important wall paintings at Ickworth House, Bury St Edmunds.

Work on the famous property will include improving the environmental control of the rare C19th Neo-Classical decorative Pompeian Room above which some of the work will take place.

The West Link roof requires re-leading and re-slating and rainwater needs to be diverted away from the Pompeian Room to reduce the risk of water penetration and to protect the exquisite wall paintings within the room.

a painting showing semi naked classical figures

Image © Tobit Curteis Associates 2008

Although the paintings in the Pompeian Room are extremely important they were originally painted in a technique, which is fundamentally unstable.

“The key to saving them is to control the environment in the room so as to reduce the rate of deterioration,” explained Tobit Curteis the wall paintings and environmental specialist who has been monitoring the preservation of the room and its contents.

“Sheeps’ wool insulation will be installed in the roof voids to reduce heat loss and seals will be added to doors to control air leakage. We are hoping that the improved environmental buffering provided by the present work will allow us to use the conservation heating system in the Pompeian Room to provide the stable conditions that we need to conserve the paintings.”

a close up showing a roof decoration with circular roman style motif

Image © Tobit Curteis Associates 2008

The project also includes the installation of new trapdoors, latchway line and walkways to provide safer access for future maintenance.

Ickworth House, with much of its collection of family portraits, Huguenot silver, Regency furniture and china, and the park, passed to the National Trust in 1956.

Famous for its art collection and striking rotunda building (started by Earl-Bishop who died in 1803 and completed by Earl-Bishop’s son, the future 1st Marquess of Bristol), the house and its inhabitants enjoyed their heyday in the Edwardian era.

a photo of a room with ornate decoration and fresco painting

Image © Tobit Curteis Associates 2008

Today it houses important collections of paintings (including work by Velázquez and Titian) and fine family portraits (several by Gainsborough), as well as Huguenot and ambassadorial silver and Regency furniture.

“The West Link Roof project will play a major role in conserving this historic listed building and the beautiful painted walls inside the Pompeian Room,” said Paul Coleman, Senior Building Surveyor at The National Trust’s East of England Regional Office.

a photo of a round sandstone classical style builidng with a rotunda roof

Ickworth House. © NTPL Rupert Truman

Work is due for completion at the end of March 2009 when the house re-opens to the public.

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