Lace designer Louise West helps with restoration

The return of a lavishly carved and decorated 18th century state bed to the National Trust’s Kedleston Hall marks the final stage of restoration work and includes gold lace made by Derby-based designer Louise West.

The restoration of 11 rooms on the state floor of the historic Hall, designed by neoclassical architect Robert Adam as a spectacular show house for his client Nathaniel Curzon, has involved countless skilled carvers, gilders, painters and conservators over the last 30 years.

The unique bed, also designed by Adam, is believed to have been made by Kedleston’s carvers in 1768 under Derby’s James Gravenor.

However, over time it had become badly damaged and extensive work was needed to repair broken carvings and flaking gilding. Silk upholstery and handmade gold lace and braid also needed to be replaced.

Louise was given the amazing task of recreating the lace using real gold thread in 2015 and in total made 30 metres in three different designs. It took her 1,100 hours over 19 months.

“The first stage of the project was to study the original lace, photograph it in situ and work out how the original had been worked. Some of the techniques varied a little from the bobbin lace that is normally used today,” she said.

“Once the techniques were identified, the pattern was drafted on paper before being scanned into the computer to true-up and make the accurate pricking.

“It was a pleasure to be involved with this prestigious project, and it gave me a little  insight into the lives of the old lacemakers, sitting at their pillows, for hours a day – although without their cold and damp conditions.”

Simon McCormack, conservation manager at the Hall, said: “The state bed is the jewel in the crown of Kedleston Hall’s furniture and is by far the most magnificent item on the state floor.

“Of all the luxurious materials deployed at Kedleston, the most expensive were reserved for it, with its gold lace and braid, and it was easily the biggest item of furniture created for the house.

“It is incredibly exciting to see the return of this magnificent piece of furniture; it is the icing on the cake in this remarkable 30 year project,” he added.

Go to http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk to find out more details about the hall and visiting times.