Holmwood Interior Recreation

The drawing room at Holmwood

Holmwood Interior Recreation project

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Known for the strong influence of ancient Greece in its architecture, Holmwood is possibly the best example of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s architectural vision and his interior designs. From its columns and cupolas to its elegant floor-to-ceiling windows, Holmwood is one of the most compelling neo-Greek buildings from the Victorian era.

To conservators’ surprise and delight, Thomson’s original decorations have been uncovered – many surviving intact under layers of paint applied over the years by the house’s former owners.

These highly colourful and intricate stencilled walls are rare examples of Thomson’s interior design schemes and the only ones open to the public. Without our urgent conservation work, they would have been lost forever.

Over the past couple of years, a major project has been underway. A team of experts have been carefully uncovering, investigating, conserving and reinstating the villa’s amazing stencilled interior decoration, taking it back to circa 1860 to show Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s original schemes.

Nearly three years since the start of the project and we are nearing the re-creation of Alexander Thomson’s highly decorated interiors. Throughout the project we placed a strong emphasis on historical accuracy, underpinning all actions with thorough research and taking a holistic approach to the interiors, to deliver complete and authentic decorative schemes.

Staying true to this approach has helped us at difficult points along the way, probably most so in the parlour, the most recent room to have been completed. The parlour was difficult for a number of reasons, not least of which was a lack of original evidence in some areas. As with all other rooms at Holmwood, we started out with the paint investigation reports commissioned from wall paint experts. These clarify the sequence of earlier paint schemes and the extent to which they were employed throughout the room. In the parlour, all of this was made much more difficult because of a thick textured plaster that had been applied to wall surfaces; it was hard to chip away to reach the earlier paint schemes underneath.

This delicate work is bringing the rich colours and opulent designs vividly to life at Holmwood. Visitors will be able to appreciate Thomson’s genius and experience what the villa would have looked like when newly built in 1857–8.

It will cost the Trust £120,000 to conserve, protect and research these interiors and we couldn’t do it without the generous support we have already received. But we still need your help continue this vital project and complete our work. Please donate today.