The Pavilion, Wrest Park
Thomas Archer's pavilion, built between 1709 and 1711, and its magnificent trompe l'œil paintings by Louis Hauduroy are at risk. This year work will begin to weatherproof the dome and conserve the paintings of this exceptional building, which is a key feature of the beautiful Wrest Park landscape.
Thomas Archer's baroque pavilion is one of the charity's current major conservation projects. A £400,000 investment will restore it to its early 18th-century glory, fit for fashionable suppers and hunting parties.
The pavilion's design is unusual in England. Its six projecting bays – three round alternating with three square – display Archer's delight in geometry. His play with geometrical forms has much in common with designs by the great baroque architects Borromini and Bernini, whose work he may have seen in Italy on the Grand Tour. Archer's work is more continental than that of any other English architect of his day.
Restoring a Baroque beauty
The large, circular room and domed ceiling are decorated with paintings by Louis Hauduroy, including trompe l'œil columns, niches and statues. The imagery and family portraits are thought to celebrate the elevation of Henry Grey, owner of Wrest Park, to the dukedom in 1710 – the family's crowning achievement.
From the central room three small spiral staircases lead to three small upper chambers, which cannot be seen from the outside of the building. There is also a basement with a kitchen, larder, bath and two-seater privy.
£400,000 of essential repairs
Restoration work starts with weather-proofing and redecorating the exterior, after which the wall paintings will be restored and conserved.
Considerable research goes into preparing for work of this kind. Investigations started in 2009, with specialists brought in to assess the extent of damage and how best to carry out the work.
The preparatory work will take place this year, but the main conservation work is not expected to start before winter 2016-17 at which point a temporary scaffold roof structure will need to be in place.
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