Appeals: Fulham Palace Museum

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The Independent Online
A detail of a rococo plaster ceiling, recently uncovered in what was built as a dining-room in the 18th century for Bishop Sherlock, at Fulham Palace, London (below), now a museum. The museum's trust - the Fulham Palace Trust, which was set up in 1990, has launched a fund-raising appeal to restore the whole of the dining-room: the plaster ceiling is in good condition but the walls of the room have been radically altered; the room was partitioned for many years.

Fulham Palace was until 1973 a residence of the Bishop of London. The manor of Fulham was granted in 704 to Bishop Waldhere by the Bishop of Hereford. The palace was one of a number of houses owned by the Bishop of London: in the 16th century the see owned about 30 estates, as well as a palace at Old St Paul's before the Great Fire, a house in Aldersgate Street and, in the 18th century, another in St James's Square. After the Second World War, Fulham Palace became the bishop's official residence.

The present building is a mix of architectural styles: the Great Hall is the earliest surviving part of a courtyard built in 1480; the hall's timber roof is obscured by an 18th-century ceiling thought to have been added by Bishop Sherlock (Bishop of London 1748-61) who remodelled the hall and the dining-room. A later incumbent, Bishop Terrick (1764-77), who was fond of the Gothick style, made further changes: he shifted the palace's arrangement of rooms so that views of the river and landscaped gardens were emphasised; a library and a chapel were added. During the 19th century, Bishop Howley (1814-18), disliking the 'Gothick nonsense', altered the palace again, adding another dining-room and converting the chapel into the Porteus Library. In 1867 Bishop Tait added a new chapel in Tudor revival style.

The garden, with a knot herb garden and wisteria, is mainly 18th-century in design although the walled kitchen garden has a Tudor archway. Bishop Compton (1675-1713) imported many exotic plants to the garden, and is credited with introducing the magnolia virginiana to Europe. The gardens and two rooms in the palace are open to the public. The trust needs to raise nearly pounds 100,000 to restore the dining-room. For further information, contact: The Curator, Fulham Palace Museum, Bishop's Avenue, London SW6 6EA, telephone 071-736 3233.

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