Shrewsbury's Attingham Park

PUBLISHED: 20:25 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:58 20 February 2013

Past masters: The Attingham Re-discovered team

Past masters: The Attingham Re-discovered team

A vast programme of works involving a team of researchers and craftspeople is rediscovering and restoring the treasures of Shrewsbury's Attingham Park.

A vast programme of works involving a team of researchers and craftspeople is rediscovering and restoring the treasures of Shrewsbury's Attingham Park. Here Jo Mason of the National Trust explains the project and Shropshire Life Social Correspondent Howard Franklin returns to the estate which he first visited more than 40 years ago, to meet those bringing the property back to life and discover the wonders behind the 'austere' facade.

Pictures: National Trust /Robert Thrift and John Snowdon

An ambitious phased programme to improve the presentation of the interiors at Attingham Park is underway. Stunning developments are taking place inside the mansion as part of the Attingham Rediscovered project. The restoration comes after seven years of research which has literally peeled back the historical layers of this striking Georgian mansion.

New for 2009 is the continued work to return the Octagon Room back to its Regency splendour. A dramatic decorative scheme is being re-created to reflect the 2nd Lord Berwick's lavish spending.

Experts have uncovered evidence of the Regency-style curtains, carpet and furniture, and are planning to re-instate them according to the 1827 Attingham bankruptcy sale catalogue descriptions. Against the foil of the greys and black, the room was a riot of colour with splashes of pink, orange, crimson and blue.

Also this season, visitors will witness the re-displaying of an unusual wallpaper scheme along the West Gallery.

Conservators have peeled back the layers of wall covering to reveal an 1807 trompe l'oeil (fool the eye) scheme which uses shadow and highlights to give an impression of relief on raised panels.

The palette of salmony-pink, greys and blacks, is seen elsewhere in the house associated with the early Regency period. Project curator Sarah Kay says: "No-one who has looked at this wallpaper scheme - sections of which have been uncovered underneath layers of later oil paint - has seen anything like it anywhere, so it is very rare and unusual."

Visitors are also marveling over the atmospheric Dining Room now displayed as a sumptuous evening dinner party for the 3rd Lord Berwick, and the installation of the rich, crimson Picture Gallery and Nash Staircase carpet which matches the 19th century original in design, colour and manufacturing techniques. The breathtaking difference in the Boudoir is also visible as progress continues with cleaning the delicately painted walls.

Property Manager Mark Agnew says: "This is an incredibly exciting time at Attingham because there is just so much conservation and restoration work going on all over the house which makes every visit unique.

"What is particularly exciting and stimulating is being able to share so much of it with our visitors and to gain their reactions and feedback to the work that we are doing.

"There is a great shift within the Trust to make conservation far more accessible and visible than ever before and engage our visitors with it."

Visitors can find out more about the Attingham Rediscovered project every open day by reading information panels and speaking with the room guides. Specialist Re-discovered tours take place throughout the season, including winter weekends, for details call: 01743 708123.

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