Centuries old art revealed to the public

Historic wall coverings from the time of Elizabeth I are now on public display.

Work to reveal and restore the paintings, which had spent hundreds of years covered by layers of paint, lime wash and distemper, is now complete, meaning visitors to Eastgate House are in for an historic treat.

The paintings, located on the second floor, were uncovered thanks to hours of careful, painstaking work by expert conservators to delicately remove the overlying layers. Further paintings located on the third floor, and not currently available to the public, are being investigated, these could be depictions of popular heroic figures or ‘worthies’ from history.

Susan Haydock, Chairman of the Friends of Eastgate House, commented: “It was a lot of work for the experts, but the late 16th and early 17th century artwork that has been uncovered is more plentiful and in better condition than we had hoped. This really is very special and we are grateful to the Rochester Bridge Trust for its donation to support this work, which adds an extra level to the renovation of the house.”

A grant of £2,000 was presented by the Trust to the Friends of Eastgate House, who match-funded this with another £2,000. This supports the funding of a major refurbishment of the house and wall paintings, paid for by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Russell Cooper, Senior Warden of the Rochester Bridge Trust, said: “The Trust was very pleased to be able to support this restoration and preservation which enables local people to experience local history. These wall paintings reveal an unusual glimpse of a time when the medieval bridge crossed the River Medway. It’s truly remarkable to see them.”

Eastgate House was built in 1590, and was owned by Sir Peter Buck, a senior officer at the then Royal Tudor Dockyard in Chatham. The Grade I listed building has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. An important part of the project was the work to uncover more of the wall paintings – until now only fragments were visible.

When funds allow, the Rochester Bridge Trust offers grants towards the cost of a range of projects, including heritage structures; history and agriculture; civil engineering; and projects linked to the River Medway.

For more information about grants from the Rochester Bridge Trust see www.rbt.org.uk/grants, or to find out about Eastgate House visit www.friendsofeastgatehouse.org.