The Strawberry Hill Trust allowed a small group of us to put on hard hats go and have a nosy around the building site that is the Walpole House this morning. There's huge amounts of work to do prior to the opening in September, but it's clear that it's going to be a spectacular restoration. On the outside the sandstone walls have been painted a dazzling white, the gilded weather vanes have been replaced and plans for Walpole's decedent flower garden are being laid. Inside all is power tools, tinny radios, hammering and sawing as a team of builders push forward with the plans.
The most wonderful discovery was the scagliola fire place designed by Robert Adam and inspired by Edward the Confessor's tomb. It's in the round room and although still under wraps is fully restored to former glory. We were allowed to lift the blankets and enjoy the shimmering inlay and vivid colours in a way that's not been seen for 250 hundred years.
Afterwards Matt and I had a meeting with Lizzy and Claire, the newly appointed education team, about possible links for Drama St Mary's students. We agreed that six of the Level 3 Applied Theatre students should be seconded to the Trust for a year and work alongside the department to create four events at the house over the next twelve months. They'll meet the team here once a week for orientation and then use the house and its history as inspiration to create some dramatic interventions that will, in turn, introduce the little gothic castle to new audiences. I hope it'll be an imaginative and fruitful partnership. With jobs at a premium the opportunity to work this closely with and learn from a creative learning department isn't to be sniffed at.