The Historic Houses Association (HHA) and Sothebys
announced that the winning entry of their Restoration Award for 2010 - an award now in its third year - is Wilton House near Salisbury in Wiltshire. Wiltons winning project is its spectacular private Dining Room, which is the centerpiece of an extensive programme of exceptional restoration projects at the house in recent years, which has also seen the Library, North Ante Library, Smoking Rooms, Cloisters, Gothic Hall, Inner Courtyard and North Forecourt brought back to their former glory. Three commendations are also announced by the HHA and Sothebys: Ballywalter Park in Newtownards, Northern Ireland; Thorpe Hall in Wycliffe, County Durham; and The Stables at Penpont in Brecon, Wales. The previous winners of the award were Markenfield Hall in Yorkshire and Chillington Hall in Staffordshire.
The Dining Room at Wilton House
Wilton House, situated near Salisbury in Wiltshire, stands on the site of a 9th century nunnery founded by King Alfred. This, in turn, was replaced by a 12th century Benedictine abbey which, with its surrounding lands, was surrendered at the time of the Dissolution of the monasteries to King Henry VIII, who gave them to William Herbert around 1542. Wilton House has remained in the Herbert family since this time and is the home of the Earl of Pembroke. The 460 year old house - with its history, architecture, art treasures and 21 acres of gardens and parkland - today attracts visitors from all over the world.
William Herbert, the 18th Earl of Pembroke, inherited the title and the Wilton estate in 2005, since when - with the assistance of the Wilton House Trustees and the interior designer David Mlinaric - he has initiated an extensive programme of restoration projects. The overriding aim of all these projects has been to restore the parts of the house that it was felt had lost their historical integrity or which had been neglected during previous structural repairs. Both traditional and modern methods of restoration have been used and, wherever possible, the work has been undertaken by estate and local craftsmen.* Renovations undertaken, so far, include the Cloisters, the Gothic Hall, the Eastern and Western Cloister Oriel windows, the Courtyard, the Smoking Room, the Library and the North Forecourt, and works are still ongoing in other parts of the house. The sensitive revival of the spectacular private Dining Room forms the centerpiece of the extensive renovations on the estate to date.
For many years the Dining Room was used as a games room and general storage room but in 2008 the 18th Earl commenced the major restoration efforts to return it to its former glory. This work has taken local craftsmen many months to complete.
The work undertaken:
The walls were painted in a dark blueish green to match an existing paint sample and the ceiling and paneling mouldings in a stone colour, which were subsequently part-gilded by Hare & Humphreys.
Two new caryatids were created from those in the Library by Coade Ltd, to stand either side of the doorway.
Antiqued-looking glass panels were set between the windows on the north wall, and new metal radiator covers were made.
The furnishings underwent major conservation work - two giltwood torcheres, three tapestries, the table, two large Reynolds portraits. Two new chandeliers were also made by Coade Ltd and subsequently gilded by Lord Pembokes sister.
The walls were painted in a dark blueish green to match an existing paint sample
Discussing Wilton Houses winning entry, Edward Harley, President of the Historic Houses Association, states: Lord Pembroke is to be congratulated on the superb restoration of these fine rooms, as well as the courtyards which form part of the setting of this great house, home of his family for over 450 years. Sensitively but dramatically restored, Wilton House has entered a new chapter in its long history. This great restoration project also reflects more widely the work being carried out by private owners throughout the country to preserve their historic properties. By attracting increasing numbers of visitors historic houses make a critical contribution to the economies of fragile rural areas.
James Stourton, Chairman of Sothebys UK, adds: I have watched with increasing admiration as the astonishing scheme of restoration at Wilton has unfolded. This is one of the outstanding country house renovations of the decade.
The Earl of Pembroke comments: I am delighted to hear the news that Wilton has won this award. Since inheriting Wilton from my father seven years ago, we have been striving to continue the restoration work started by him in the early 1990s. Over this period, a considerable amount of work has been undertaken in and around the house and it is wonderful to receive this level of recognition. Through the numerous projects completed we have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented craftsmen, experts in interiors and architectural historians, and it is to those people that I owe my gratitude. I very much enjoy being able to show our visitors the work that has been achieved at Wilton over the years, as well as the many ongoing projects.