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Brintons archive helps restore the Duke of Wellington’s bedroom

7th January 2016

Brintons, has helped the English Heritage to repeat history at Walmer Castle by supplying 19th century designs from our extensive archive.

Constructed in 1540 by Henry VIII, Walmer Castle is a Tudor castle situated in Walmer, Kent. Housed by the Duke of Wellington from 1829 - 1852 during his position as Lord Warden, the Duke’s bedroom is his final resting place and is a popular tourist attraction maintained by the English Heritage.

As part of a renovation project to restore the Duke of Wellington’s bedroom as it was at the time of his death in 1852, Brintons’ Archivist, Yvonne Smith, was approached by the English Heritage Curator for the South East to explore the archives for a design that reflected the style of the original carpet.

When examining the pattern, English Heritage and Brintons didn’t have any physical carpet to work with, but instead used a watercolour painting of the Duke’s bedroom by painter Thomas Shotter Boys, which still hangs in Walmer Castle. The style of the carpet was identified as a Brussels weave, and a picture of the painting was taken to the archive to find designs that were as close to the original as possible.

Rowena Willard-Wright, Senior Curator for English Heritage South East, said: “When working on the Duke of Wellington’s bedroom restoration project, not only did the carpet design have to be of the right period it also needed to closely approximate the carpet’s design and the colourways represented within the watercolour.”

After examining hand painted design papers from Brintons’ expansive archive, three examples were chosen that were of the era and of similar Brussel’s style to the carpet depicted. 

The English Heritage consulted Linney Carpet Consultants, which specialises in traditional installation methods, regarding the design and the appropriate application methods. To ensure that the period style was completely mirrored, a traditional method of installation was used on the 65sqm of carpet to replicate the original style of the bedroom.

Dewi Hughes, Project Manager at Linney Cooper Carpet Consultants, said: “When we installed the design we used a hem and blued tack method of installation, and all seams were sewed by hand. This method was traditional to the period and would have been used on the original carpets, completely replicating what would have been in the Duke’s bedroom.”

Featuring shades of dull rose pinks, bright terracottas and red fawns, the early Victorian panel designs were transformed into a pattern repeat that reflected the traditional interiors of the 19th Century period.

Rowena, continued: “When working on historical renovations such as Walmer Castle, Brintons’ archive is a national treasure for curators involved in this kind of specialist research and it was fantastic to find a design so close to the original.”

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