This week in the Mansion the scaffolding has started to go up! It’s exciting because after so much planning and discussion it feels as though the physical work is really starting.
Scaffolding has been put first in the drum of the Nash Stairs. Planning the supportive frame here has been quite a challenge for the team because of the architect John Nash’s original design. The staircase is cantilevered and so we cannot put too much weight on it at once.
John Nash made the circular cantilevered staircase almost a trait of his work. Many of his earlier houses have such schemes in them, as do his later villas and designs. One of these which is particularly interesting for us here at Attingham is the staircase Nash designed for his own home on the Isle of Wight, East Cowes Castle. Nash built this castellated house for himself from 1798 and over his lifetime remodelled it to suit his own tastes. It was demolished in the 1950s but the staircase which sat in the heart of the house was strikingly similar to ours here at Attingham!
Our archive team recently found a record of 2nd Lord Berwick journeying to the Isle of Wight between 1799-1802 and this brought up some interesting questions. Did Lord Berwick perhaps visit John Nash’s home and then commission a staircase like the one at East Cowes Castle? Maybe John Nash suggested it for Attingham as he liked the decorative style so much? or… Did Nash remodel his own stairs after building the Grand Staircase here at Attingham 1805-7?
We just don’t know the answer but perhaps you have some ideas?
What we do know however is that the design of the Grand Staircase here means we have had to really think about how it will be protected during the building and conservation work above. No extra weight of scaffolding can be taken by the stairs and so all the loading has gone straight to the floor below.
This scaffolding will not only protect the visitors below but also give access to the beautiful decorative scheme of the space. Once the scaffolding is up, the team, led by Annabelle Monaghan our paintings conservator, can start to assess the condition of the high level decoration which has been so hard to reach before.
Next week the Picture Gallery will also be protected by scaffolding ready for work to start in a few weeks and the Mansion to reopen on the 2nd March. Come along this weekend however and get a sneak peek at the Picture Gallery being all wrapped up! Our knowledgeable Through the Roof tour guides will be running winter tours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and would love to see you there.