The Dining Room at Allerton Castle was considered the finest carved oak room outside of the Houses of Parliament in London and its loss, although a tragedy, provided a challenge to the Foundation to restore it to its original form. Based mainly on pictures, the oak carvings required for the ceiling and walls were made in China. To replace just over 40 meters of the heavily carved cornice needed it was first modeled in clay and a fiberglass copy made and sent to China which was replicated by the woodcarvers there along with the 25 oak bosses, over 400 small blocks, 320 large oak wall carvings, etc. also required. The detailed and meticulous installation and fitting required here was by done by English craftsmen.
The Fireplace was also duplicated in China. The original was crumbling as the fire had weakened the marble. It was first stabilized by coating with epoxy, then dismantled and the 13 pieces (over 3 tons of marble) was crated and sent to China to be used to create an exact copy. The carved stone boss above the windows also had to be removed, stabilized by coating with epoxy and a rubber mould made to allow it to be recreated in artificial stone, this work being done by Foundation restoration staff. The amoral stained glass windows were recreated based on pictures and scraps of glass by a firm in Leeds. The four wall lights were recreated by a firm in Harrogate. The carved amoral crests and side tables have recently been created and a large Gothic longcase clock has now been found to replace the original. Fortunately the original main dining table, side table and chairs were out of the room at the time and survived.
State Bedrrom Complex
Once construction of the structure of the space (roof, ceiling, walls and floor) was completed by outside contractors, the cornices were designed and constructed and the rooms decorated by Foundation staff. The marble fireplaces were carved in China and the furniture to replace those lost in the fire was purchased from auction houses and antique stores in Europe and England. The new State Bed was from Dunect House in Scotland and the silk fabric for the bed, and the damask for the walls from a mill in Italy. The parquet oak floors were laid by Foundation staff.
Replaces the Venetian Bedroom. A complete suite of giltwood furniture from a Saudi Arabian Palace, originally carved and gilded in Italy, was found and purchased to create this bedroom. The alabaster light was found in London, the marble fireplace was carved in China.
Fortunately the flooding of the ground floor by the breaching of the 5,000 gallon water tank above the Conservatory next door saved most of the Library. Only one third of the ceiling and all of the bookcases on one wall were destroyed. The water however saturated the old plaster design of the ceiling causing it to leach and fall apart and the entire ceiling and cornice had to be removed and duplicated. The bookcases lost were duplicated based on the remaining originals and almost all the books were either burned in the fire or destroyed by water and had to be replaced. The wallpaper, printed from the original wooded blocks by Pugin for the Houses of Parliament, was again purchased and hung. Fortunately Foundation maintenance staff who had been working in this area had laid heavy plastic sheeting which protected most of the carpet. The damaged areas were repaired by Foundation restoration staff.
Although the Conservatory was mostly saved when a 5,000 gallon cast iron water tank located above was breached and flooded this area saving it from being totally destroyed by fire. Much of the damage occurred when it was necessary to erect scaffolding through this hall to support the walls during initial reconstruction. All fire and other damaged wood carving was carefully re-carved and blended into the original by Julie Meredith, a very talented wood carver from York, where it is almost impossible to detect the new from the original.
Except for areas of damage to the light wells over the Great Stairs and Fireplace, and the loss of the oak balcony overlooking the Great Stairs on one side which was completely burned out, the castle interior wall (24” thick), the 4 inch thick doors and the ability of the fire department to apply water kept the fire from entering the main section of the Great Hall. A major problem of white streaks in the French polish on the oak paneling was solved by a semi-retired French polishing expert who ignited with a match methylated spirits which he had brushed onto the white areas to draw out the moisture. This is not recommended for DIY. Lead and debris had dropped onto the carpet under where the balcony overlooking the Great Stairs was burned out, but fortunately Foundation restoration staff were able to carefully scrape this off with minimal damage to the carpet.
The chapel was until recently in a serious dilapidated condition with the roof needing replacement and was on the English Heritage ‘Buildings at Risk’ list for several years. 2013 was therefore a momentous year when both English Heritage and the Country Houses Foundation agreed to assist with funding and work on the roof is now complete. The original stain glass windows have since been restored by The Foundation completed and the interior restoration continues.