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C:UP Lanhydrock Long Gallery ceiling conservation project

A conservator wearing yellow rubber gloves using a brush to clean the plaster on the ceiling in the Long Gallery at Lanhdyrock
A conservator at work in the Long Gallery | © Faye Rason

The Long Gallery ceiling at Lanhydrock is a masterpiece of Jacobean plasterwork. One of the few parts of the house that survived the great fire at Lanhydrock in 1881, the ceiling is now undergoing a major conservation project to clean and restore it. Climb the scaffold to get up close to the ceiling, see the conservation specialists at work and find out what it takes to care for this delicate piece of art.

The project

For the first time in its 400-year history, one of Europe’s most spectacular historic ceilings, depicting dozens of Biblical scenes, birds, and mythical beasts, is undergoing full conservation and repair. Created for Lanhydrock’s former owner, John Robartes, between 1620-40, the ceiling is a masterpiece of Jacobean plasterwork, and thought to be the work of the Abbott family of Frithelstock near Bideford.

At 35 metres (116 feet) long, the barrel-vaulted ceiling of the Long Gallery at Lanhydrock will take specialists from Cliveden Conservation months to clean dirt and discolouration accumulated over centuries and to carry out intricate repairs. Using sponges and brushes, the specialists will use warm water to clean the ceiling, mould missing parts, including two unicorn horns, and reapply a layer of distemper.

Comprising 24 panels with scenes from the Old Testament Book of Genesis, including Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, the Life of Jacob, and David and Goliath, they are surrounded by more than 350 different species of animals, as well as intricately moulded plants and mythical beasts.

Visitors to climb a purpose-built scaffold to see the full length of the Long Gallery ceiling up close and watch the conservators at work. The scaffolding will be up from March-October 2024.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for visitors to witness such a large-scale conservation project in action. Whether you are on the scaffold or enjoying it from ground level, you can be sure few people have seen this Jacobean plasterwork in as much detail since the talented craftsmen first completed it four centuries ago.”

A quote by Charlotte NewmanNational Trust Senior Collections and House Manager

Visiting the ceiling

Make the most of this once-in-a-lifetme opportunity to get up close to the Long Gallery ceiling with the house open daily 11am-5pm (last entry 4.30pm).

  • Find out what it's taken to get the house ready for the ceiling project with a new exhbition running through the mansion route.
  • Experience Lanhydrock's collections like never before as they are safely stored on racking away from the Long Gallery during the project.
  • See cutting-edge scans of the Long Gallery ceiling with a new film produced by researchers at Plymouth University.
  • Climb the scaffold and see the ceilng's intricate craftsmanship. There are more than 350 animals on the ceiling- how many can you spot?
  • Watch the specialist conservators at work as they restore the ceiling (select days).
  • Pick up a ceiling souvenir in the shop, with toys, guidebooks and post cards all available to help you remember your visit.
  • Once you've discovered the ceiling, why not explore Lanhydrock's other two house routes: the Kitchen and Victorian Family routes.

Protecting the collection

Please note that much of the collection on the mansion route is currently displayed on racking or under dust sheets to keep it protected while the Long Gallery ceiling is conserved. The Kitchen and Victorian Family Routes are displayed as normal.

key facts

116 feet

The length of the Long Gallery at Lanhydrock

3,348 books

Were moved from the Long Gallery to keep them safe while the conservation work takes place

350+ animals

Can be seen on the ceiling, including cats, snakes and ostriches.

A visitor walking up the scaffold steps onto the scaffold in the Long Gallery at Lanhydrock to view the Jacobean ceiling
Visitors can climb onto the scaffold to see the ceiling up close | © Steve Haywood

C:UP timeline so far


Monitoring the ceiling's condition

New surveys carried out in two phases between November 2021 and January 2022. The ceiling's existing finish was found to be flaking and patchy from previous ad hoc repairs, resulting in poor aesthetics to what is a nationally significant plasterwork ceiling. It was decided that a major conservation project was needed to restore the ceiling. 

Detail of a scene depicting Adam and Eve in plaster on the Long Gallery ceiling at National Trust Lanhydrock
Discoloured plasterwork on the Long Gallery ceiling before conservation | © Faye Rason

Frequently asked questions

Family visitors walking in the garden at Lanhydrock, Cornwall

Discover more at Lanhydrock

Find out when Lanhydrock is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

An adult and a child standing on scaffold and admiring the intricate plaster ceiling at Lanhydrock

Things to do in Lanhydrock house 

Lanhydrock is a Victorian country house packed with layers of history and family stories. Discover a major conservation project on the Mansion route as the Long Gallery ceiling is restored, explore the lives of the Agar-Robartes children on the Family route, and meet the costumed servants below stairs who cared for the house and family.

A family playing in the garden at Lanhydrock, Cornwall

Family-friendly things to do at Lanhydrock 

Discover what family-friendly activities are on offer at Lanhydrock, from visiting the reimagined Victorian nursery to exploring the estate by bicycle.

Black and white archive photograph of the Agar-Robartes children circa 1896, at Lanhydrock, Cornwall

The history of Lanhydrock 

From political scandals to personal tragedies, discover the fascinating history of the Lanhydrock estate and the many people who lived there.

Visitors in the garden at Lanhydrock in Cornwall

Group visits to Lanhydrock 

Everything you need to know about organising a group visit to the Lanhydrock estate, from how to book tickets to the benefits you might receive.

Two children sitting on a sofa eating shortbread biscuits in the café at Lanhydrock, Cornwall

Eating and shopping at Lanhydrock 

Find out where to stop for food and drink on the Lanhydrock estate, along with the best places to shop for souvenirs and gifts.