Restoring our heritage

Residents had their first chance to view the restored murals at Fetcham Park House at a special heritage open evening in September.

The murals, by artist Louis Laguerre, were painted soon after the house was built in the early 1700s. They are considered to be of national importance. Laguerre moved to England from France in 1683 and his work graces the walls of some of England's finest houses, including Chatsworth and Blenheim Palace.

The owner of Fetcham Park House, Sandra Young, says: "It's wonderful, the colours are amazing. There's detail there we haven't seen because it's all been covered up."

The man responsible for the restoration is Paul Tsangari, who lives in Gatesden Road, Fetcham.  He followed his father into the world of fine art conservation, and remembers working with him in Fetcham Park as a teenage apprentice.

Part of the ceiling mural 'The Assembly of the Gods'

“When I was 16 it was the first time I had walked into the house and it just blew me away.  It had everything I wanted to join the business for, a grand and fantastic place.”

Paul explained that most of the damage and dirt on the murals was because of heat from several sources.

“There were old lights near the ceiling giving out heat, so they’ve been replaced.”

And he described how loose and flaking paint was consolidated back on with the help of beeswax. And he discovered a fair amount of dirt too.

“It was black which is very odd, because normally it’s brown. I couldn’t work out what this stuff was. Eventually I tasted it, and it tasted just like soot, although I was told there had been no fires here for 50 years, so I then washed the whole ceiling and walls. The colours were fantastic.  What you’re now seeing is far closer to the original. This building is of national importance – definitely. It’s not just the murals, but they do make Fetcham Park super special.”

Visitors can view the murals by arrangement with Fetcham Park House, or when the house is open for events. There is a charity drinks reception at Fetcham Park after the Candlelit Carol Service at St Mary's Church on 4th December.

www.fetchampark.co.uk

Paul Tsangari working on the Fetcham Park murals. Picture: Eddie Judd

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