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After the fire at Broomfield House in 1984, parts of the interior fittings that could be salvaged were removed and put in store.  They included the striking murals on the staircase created by George Lanscroon.  Now, thirty years later, the crates have been opened and their contents inspected.  Colin Younger reports.

lanscroon muralsThe Lanscroon Murals: After the fire….long after the fire!

One of uncertainties about the scope and cost of the rebuilding of Broomfield House has been the condition of the mural panels and fragments.

Immediately after the 1984 fire salvage and emergency preservation work was undertaken, and the wall panels and ceiling fragments were removed and enclosed in purpose built, tailor-made crates. In our bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund a notional sum of £850,000 was allocated to murals, on the assumption that if we were successful in the Stage 1 bid, the HLF would allocate development funds part of which could be used to pay for the expert conservation work needed to refine this estimate.

lanscroon1Given the potential risk that examination of the murals without the appropriate conservation back up might result in inadvertent damage there has been reluctance to open the boxes.

On 25 February, as a result of an initiative by Ivor Evans, the material was examined in store by a team made up of Enfield’s Principal Heritage Officer Christine White; Stephen Paine, an expert restorer and Lanscroon enthusiast; Clair Brady, Building Inspector from English Heritage; Dr Robyn Pender, a Senior Architectural Conservator from the Building Conservation and Research Team, English Heritage; and Tracy Manning, a Consultant from the same team.

For the Trust this could have been a make or break occasion, since the murals are a key part of the listing status of Broomfield House. I’m pleased and relieved to report that the examination went well. All the experts were very confident that the material was in good condition and that the original salvage and preservation work had stood the test of time. The enthusiasm for both the relatively unappreciated Lanscroon and the rebuilding project was encouraging and bodes well for the expert and professional support the next bid to the HLF would attract.

lanscroon2We are now pressing LBE to commission a full condition survey be carried out to establish exactly what needs to be done and at what cost to reinstate the remaining elements of the murals in a rebuilt Broomfield House. This cost of this would be a matter of negotiation, but informally we understand that this would not be prohibitive. Whatever strategy is pursued over Broomfield House this will be an essential exercise.

We were able to see other material salvaged after the fire, including sections of the important staircase (the rails and barleycorn twist uprights) and various other decorative features from which replicas could be fashioned to replace missing elements.

All in all a good day!

Colin Younger
Deputy Chair, The Broomfield House Trust

For more photographs see the Restoring Broomfield House website.

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