What We’ve Been Up To - Week Ending 25/01/2014

This has been rather a satisfying week at The House. The highlight for many will have been the field trip up to the historic Reform Club in Pall Mall, London, as guests of Elaine Fear. Opened in 1841 the Reform Club remains the quintessential Gentlemen’s Club and was designed, in palatial style, by Charles Barry.  “Membership” according to the club's website, “ was restricted to those who pledged support for the Great Reform Act of 1832, and the many MPs and Whig peers among the early members developed the Club as the political headquarters of the Liberal Party.” Of course, no such restrictions apply to-day and those lucky enough to be given a guided tour are able to absorb the full splendours of the Georgian Club interior.

The highlight in the office at the top of The House was when Swiss intern, Carolina  Sanchez, after a mere three weeks, announced that she had finished selecting, editing and captioning the illustrations to be used in our immense Silhouette Project, 'Profiles of the Past', in which the RTH has been engaged for the last year.  The RTH has now emerged as the possessor of the most comprehensive database, not just on the actual art of Sillhouettes, but of all the Georgian artists (around 360) engaged in this genre.

At the same time the proofreading group have almost arrived at the end of checking over every entry concerning the biographical and technical details of the aforesaid 360 artists.  While there is still work to be done on the project it will not be long before this huge corpus of work will appear on-line and be accessible through the Profiles website.

The hands-on crew – those who are working on the plastering, painting, carpenting and all aspects of restoration – have also had a satisfying, if extremely busy, week. The arrival on the pavement of 1000 kilos of lime plaster on Tuesday saw our three female plasterers and one muscled apprentice working against the clock to shovel the soggy mess into temporary bags, cart them down the area steps and then transport them the length of the house into the kitchen. Head man, Plasterer Paul, was on hand to direct operations and to plan exactly how all that plaster is going to be utilised in the kitchen next week.

A rather exciting original feature in the kitchen at No. 13 is the arch-front to the scullery. Rather than being bricked up, this was glazed, allowing the skylight in the centre of the kitchen roof to provide borrowed light to illuminate the interior. This contrasts to the layout of the kitchen in No. 10 and evidences the way in which individuals, while buying off plan could customise the properties.

Phil Blume started the week with a breakfast meeting to discuss aspects of the 10 Most Wanted website. Anyone who hasn’t visited  this site which searches for provenance for various artefacts might enjoy clicking on to www.10most.org.uk  - it’s fascinating and, besides, might provide answers regarding certain objects one is interested in but completely puzzled by.

Any house undergoes regular spring-cleaning and reorganisation, so there are those at The House who take care of these less exciting details. Following the freeing up of the Waiting Room last week, this week the Volunteer’s Room received a make-over and clear out.  This is partly due to the increase of Volunteers applying to the RTH and the realisation that our Volunteer’s room wasn’t suited to accommodate us all.  Thanks to a little thought, some deft work with a saw and the re-housing of many items, we now have a comfortable and practical space in the area where once harassed servants put the finishing touches to sumptuous feasts destined for the Master and Mistresses table.

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