MGM 2006 . Recreating The 17th Century: Lady Paine's Bedroom At Stranger's Hall

By Sarah Morley | 22 May 2006
a photograph of a people sat in an old fashioned bedroom with four poster bed in the middle

The talk at Stranger's Hall was part of Museums and Galleries Month 2006. © Sarah Morley/24 Hour Museum

Sarah Morley takes a wander across town to hear curator Cathy Terry give a talk on Lady Paine’s 17th century bedroom at Strangers' Hall for Museums and Galleries Month 2006.

As part of Museums and Galleries Month 2006 Strangers' Hall is throwing its doors open for a series of talks and events. Recently renovated, the Grade I listed hall has recently installed a realistic replica of the wealthy Joseph Paine’s wife’s bedroom and curator Cathy Terry was on hand to explain how the meticulous recreation was achieved.

Thanks to some painstaking research visitors can now see a room complete with hand woven bed linen and matching four-poster bed curtains. A lot of work went into this design and the fabric used for the bed curtains is based on a popular textile pattern which came from Norwich around the 16th 17th and 18th centuries.

The team at Strangers hall tried to stay true to the original room as they could. To get an accurate idea of how it would have looked they consulted the will of Joseph Paine and an inventory to piece it together. 17th century Dutch paintings were also used, reflecting the hall’s connections to the Dutch, Walloon and Flemish immigrants who moved to Norwich in the early medieval period.

a formal portrait of a woman in 17th century dress

Lady Paine keeps an eye on proceedings. © Sarah Morley/24 Hour Museum

“I am very pleased with the look of the room,” said Curator Cathy Terry. “There has been a positive response, 98 per cent of the audience love it, but there will always be some people who don’t like replicas.”

Whatever your view, the results are impressive. According to Cathy there has been around £12,000 invested into the room, and there is still work to be done. It has taken around three years to get the room to its current standard, with half of the time taken up by planning and research – then a year and a half actually working on the room to get it looking right.

The ‘Strangers’ were excellent weavers and it is thought they helped save the ailing textile trade of the time from collapse. This means every little detail had to be considered, the bed is as accurate as they could possibly make it, down to the methods of sewing the linen and the handmade string mattress supports.

Although Cathy admitted there are elements of comprise in such an undertaking, there are some painstakingly recreated deft little touches like a hand crafted foot warmer, slippers like those from a 17th century painting, a cotton nightgown, a bellow, a 17th century mirror, a replica jacket and a horn comb.

a close up shot of fabrics

Meticulous recreation of the fabrics was integral to the restoration of the room. © Sarah Morley/24 Hour Museum

With four more rooms on the agenda for restoration and recreation at Strangers' Hall, Helen and her team are going to have their work cut out, with the Oak room hopefully opening over the summer.

For more information about what’s on in Norwich see our venues and listings section.

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Sarah Morley is the 24 Hour Museum/Norwich HEART Student Writer in Norwich. Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust is the groundbreaking initiative to regenerate, manage and promote one of the most remarkable heritage resources in the UK and in Europe.

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