The original timber frame of Lauderdale House dates from around 1580. It was acquired by John Maitland, second Earl, and first Duke, of Lauderdale, in 1645, and it is thought that the Long Gallery dates from this period. The house was taken over in 1889 by the London County Council, and used as accommodation for park-keepers until fire gutted the building in 1963, when the Greater London Council replaced the roof and left the interior untouched. Repair work so far has led to the ground floor of the building, and various offices and exhibition spaces, being reopened to the public. The main staircase has been restored and the lantern above the staircase, a cupola decorated with plasterwork, has been completely reconstructed.
The plans for the restoration of the Long Gallery's ceiling are based on a 17th-century ceiling at Cromwell House, also in Highgate, and incorporate the coats of arms of four Lord Mayors of London associated with the house. The Tudor brickwork and timber will remain exposed on the north wall, and the rest will be panelled. The creation of a separate room at the east end of the gallery, connected by large double doors, will provide storage space and a venue for small receptions. Its ceiling will be constructed using a square panel of plasterwork taken from a house in Leadenhall Street, London, surrounded by decorated plaster panels. Most of the work on this room will be undertaken by students of the Restoration Department of Vauxhall College, which will keep costs down and provide valuable experience for the students.
For further information, contact: The Co-ordinator, Lauderdale House Society, Waterlow Park, Highgate Hill, London N6 5HG, telephone 081-348 8716 or 081-341 2032.
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