Conservation in the Long Gallery at Croome

 Douglas Carpenter working on the frieze

The Long Gallery at Croome is the largest and grandest room at Croome and is one of three rooms designed by Robert Adam, the others being the Tapestry Room and the Library.

The central bay with three large sash windows and four other similar windows helps to ensure that the room is always a bright and airy space.  It was intended as a rather plain but very elegant interior, the walls painted dead stone colour, probably to emphasise the spectacular, designed views out across the Park from each of the windows. 

The Long Gallery at Croome circa 1915
Croome long gallery circa 1915
The Long Gallery at Croome circa 1915

The Long Gallery was built with a raised ceiling to make the room’s dimensions fit the classical idea of a triple cube.  Adam made three attempts at a design for this ceiling, the third of which the 6th Earl accepted. 

The magnificent coffered plasterwork is believed to be modelled on Palladio’s illustration of the vaulted ceiling in the Temple of Peace in Rome.  The current damage to the frieze at the corner of the bay has been caused by water seepage from the flat roof above, but it does expose the construction of the wooden lathe framework, which separates the outer shell from the internal plasterwork. 

As part of the ongoing conservation work at Croome this frieze and the associated plasterwork is the latest piece of work being undertaken for us by Cliveden Conservation.  The team from Cliveden Conservation, who completed the cleaning and repair of two Robert Adam chimneypieces last year are now focusing on the plaster in the bay of the Long Gallery.  

Examining the damage
examining the damage long gallery
Examining the damage

Due to issues above in the roof, water ingress had rotted the supporting timber lath and studwork which held the delicate plasterwork up.  Further decay, caused by Death Watch Beetle, had resulted in the frieze becoming unstable.  A section was taken down in 2011 so the underlying issues could be fixed.  Now that is complete, work has begun to reinforce it. 

The ceiling, designed by architect Robert Adam in 1760, was arguably Adams’s first ever complete room design meaning everything in the original room, from the chimney piece and mirrors, fittings and furniture would have been designed by him. 

Douglas Carpenter, Senior Conservator at Cliveden Conservation is delighted to be working back at Croome and on another outstanding ceiling by Robert Adam.  He explains some of the work which is being carried out:

Sections of long gallery frieze
 sections of long gallery frieze
Sections of long gallery frieze

"We are introducing fixings into the plasterwork to try and secure it back to the brick substrate.  To pack out the void between the plaster and the wall we have introduced a lightweight fill material of lime, sand and micro balloons contained in a hairnet sleeve.  We are also reinstating a damaged section of frieze plasterwork from the bay which was removed several years ago amid fears of its collapse."

Local television company ITV came along to film this work taking place for a piece on their local news.

ITV filming in the long gallery
 ITV filming in the long gallery
ITV filming in the long gallery

“We were very happy to host ITV at Croome, showcasing the important ongoing conservation work being undertaken, we are always keen for visitors to see any conservation work being done, and show the challenges we face when caring for our historic houses.” said Will Watson, Croome’s House Steward.

Will Watson, House Steward, examining a damaged lath
Croome will watson examining lath
Will Watson, House Steward, examining a damaged lath

Further work will be required once the floor above the plasterwork is stabilised and Clivedon will be returning in April 2019 to complete the work.

The Long Gallery at Croome
The Long Gallery at Croome
The Long Gallery at Croome