History uncovered, reflections of the past

a finished mirror

The mirrors in the state apartment were a huge part of the restoration process due to their sheer size and delicate nature. Over the years, similar to the other furnishings in the apartment, the mirrors had suffered damage to the gilding and carving.

Mirrors on the move

Removing the mirrors from the State Floor was no easy task, some of which are simply enormous. In the 1960s when the State apartment was hung with cotton Damask they were left in situe we know this because there were still fragments of the previous Damask dating from around 1908.

hidden suprises
1908 damask

The mirrors had to be taken apart by hand into a suprising number of small individual pieces. Each piece had to be individually labelled to make sure we could easily identify each fragment to put back into the correct position after the restoration of each component was finished.

Delicate work
carefully taking the mirrors to pieces

Amazingly, whilst in the process of removing on of the larger mirrors from the wall conservators made an amazing discovery on the wall behind.

 On the lining paper of the wall restorers found a full scale charcoal sketch of the palm frond motif used in the carving of the mirror. (pic of sketch- place beside pic of carving it relates to).

An exciting discovery underneath the mirror
The charcoal drawing discovered behind the room's large mirror

We know from the archive that these items of furniture were all made on site rather than in a workshop and our guess is that the sketch was made by someone (perhaps even Robert Adam himself!) wanting to show their client how the mirror would look on the wall. 

Clearly the design was approved of because the mirror was made according to this design.  The drawing is still safely behind it on the wall.

There was significant damage to the gilding and carving of the mirror which our conservators carefully repaired where possible and replaced missing parts when necessary.

The gilding was in a sorry state
gilding damage on mirror prior to repair

Some of the really large mirrors were re-hung in stages and all the pieces gradually put back onto the walls- a real conservation jigsaw!

To prevent damp from the outside wall damaging the silvering on the original mirrors glass we fitted a silver backing on the mirror

Backing the mirrors will hopefully prevent damp in the future
mirror backing to prevent damp

to help prevent damp.