Kedleston Hall Restoration

In 2015 I started working with National Trust on the restoration of the state bedroom at Kedleston Hall, recreating the gold lace that adorns the state bed. The bed was in a poor condition, but at 300 years old this is understandable and the National Trust had undertaken the restoration of it. They asked me to recreate the lace using real gold thread. The first stage of this 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. 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. Working diagrams for all the designs were also produced on the computer.

The lace consists of three different threads, a fine two ply gold thread, a thick gimp thread and a flat plate thread, all of which were wound onto bobbins to make the lace. The flat plate was a little challenging, as it was springy and kept leaping off the bobbins! I used continental bobbins with hooks in the top for the flat plate.

In total I made 30 metres of lace in three different designs, two were used on the bed covering and one on the tester overhead at high level.

It was a pleasure to be involved with this prestigious project, and 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). Overall there was in excess of 1100 hours spent making the three lengths of lace, plus a lot more time when I spent thinking and working out various aspects early on the project.

Many other people were involved in the project to make such a spectacular restoration possible, many thanks to the National Trust for making this possible to preserve the history for the future.

Close up of the bed

The bed covering shows two of the three pieces of lace that I created.

Lace in progress

This is the first piece of the lace to be completed. It was the most difficult of the three pieces and was used on the tester (at high level) over the the bed. Eleven metres of this design was made, with an average speed of just over 52 hours a metre.

Close up of the tester lace

Close up of the lace, showing the intricate design.

Second lace to be completed, in progress

The second length of eleven metres was a quicker and more open design. This one took around 26 hours a metre to work. This is mounted on the bed covering of the finished bed.

Third length in progress

This was the final piece to be made, and of eight metres in length. This one averaged 29 and a half hours a metre.

Close up of the second piece in progress

This photograph shows the first piece to be completed close up. It is a very open lace with tallies in in the ground.

Close up of the final piece

This photograph shows the final length to be completed, which was used on the bed covering for the centre circle. Eight metres of lace made.

The tester, showing lace in position

First piece completed was mounted on the inside of the tester, adding opulence to the bed.