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    AFTER: The dining room post restoration: (copywright Will Pryce photographer). (click on image to enlarge)

    A thing of beauty is a joy forever, especially when it is sensitively restored.  The winning entry in the

    BEFORE: The dining room at Wilton House before it was restored. (click on image to enlarge)

    Historic Houses Association (HHA) and Sotheby’s Restoration Award 2010 is Wilton House near Salisbury in Wiltshire.

    Wilton’s 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.
    The house stands on a 9th century nunnery founded by King Alfred. The Benedictine abbey and 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.
    William Herbert, the 18th Earl of Pembroke, inherited the title and the Wilton estate in 2005. With the assistance of the Wilton House Trustees and interior designer David Mlinaric he initiated an extensive programme of restoration projects aimed at 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.
    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. 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 Pemboke’s sister.

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