On Monday 8 July a group of specialists from within and without the National Trust gathered at Osterley to discuss discoveries made in Osterley’s Breakfast Room and the next steps in this project. The specialists included the NT Paper Conservation Advisor, Head Curator, Furniture Curator and Curator of Pictures and Sculpture. They were joined by advisors and specialists on historic interior decoration, furniture conservation, plaster and stonework, and the history of textiles.
A number of representatives from the Arts Panel also attended. The panel provides valuable expertise to the Trust, advising staff and the Board of Trustees on the curatorship and conservation of historic properties (particularly houses with historic interiors and art collections) and their management, display and interpretation.
The visit to the room itself was especially rewarding – raising a number of questions and providing new avenues for exploration.
KEY QUESTIONS AND NEXT STEPS:
- Further exploration of relationship of the room to the rest of the House. Interestingly the rooms on the opposite side of the portico appear to have similar architectural detailing to the Breakfast Room and a corresponding door to that uncovered in the Breakfast Room. A survey of architectural details throughout the House will be carried out.
- The physical evidence found when uncovering the walls will be recorded and Gary Marshall, Regional Archaeologist will be invited to map the four walls.
- A more rigorous attempt to order and understand Osterley’s archives held elsewhere was recommended and the property hopes to hire someone to that end during 2014.
- John Hartley, Advisor on Furniture Conservation, noted the presence of at least 3 types of tacks present on the uncovered ‘door’ frame. One hand-wrought, one nineteenth century tin tack and one of copper. The use and function of this ‘door’ was much discussed as was the Breakfast Room’s relationship to the Library Passageway beyond.
- Finally, the ‘phasing’ of the project was discussed with the walls and picture hang being tackled in the first phase over the next couple of years – followed by the ceiling, floor, textile elements and carpet.