Restoration of Stowe’s State Music Room
For over ten years the Stowe House Preservation Trust (SHPT) has been restoring Stowe’s palatial mansion to its former glory, and work on the State Music Room started April. Stowe was the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos, who rose in status from humble sheep farmers to become one of the most powerful families in England. The State Music Room was designed by the Italian architect Vincenzo Valdre, whose work can also be found in Stowe’s Marble Salon. The room was part of a huge remodelling project carried out in the 1770s by Earl Temple, and following his death the room was completed under the watchful eye of his nephew George Grenville, who would become the 1st Marquess of Buckingham in 1784.
Sadly, following a decline in the family fortunes, between 1848 and 1922 Stowe House was stripped of its contents including art, furniture, fireplaces, bed linen and even the servants’ crockery. It was not until the 1960s that restoration began, a programme that has extended over many decades due to the scale and cost of the works required. Some of the earliest was carried out in the State Music Room by brothers Michael and Benjamin Gibbon. Later, in the 1980s, the original fireplace was repatriated to the room. Now the conservators are moving in again; this time, however, the room will remain open to the public.
Conservation Manager Matt Webster comments, “To work at Stowe is to work on what is probably one of the finest 18th century buildings. We will be conserving the wall paintings, gilded frames and plaster decorations in the State Music Room.”
Visitors will be able to see conservation in action during the project and specialist tours will take place with opportunities to talk to conservators. The restoration of the State Music Room is expected to be completed in August 2012.