The historic local landmark, Speke Hall, managed by the National Trust, is thrilled to announce the reopening of its much-loved Billiard Room.
Fashioned into a room of relaxation and games by the Leylands, Speke Hall’s owners between 1867 and 1877, the Billiard Room was a source of entertainment for the family, who brought some very high-profile guests to the hall including artists James Whistler and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Extensive work has gone on behind the scenes at Speke Hall to restore this grand room to its former glory, with renovations including work on the flooring, painting, soft furnishings, light shades and much more besides.
As Katie Taylor, a National Trust Curator, explains, a lot goes into not only the work itself but the decisions as to what should be done and how it should be carried out, ‘The project started a long time ago, triggered by the failing carpet and old repairs to the stone floor that needed improvement. To redecorate authentically, we commissioned a decorative analysis and pigment analysis of the paint layers to identify the correct 1860s paint scheme and guide our colour choices. We worked closely with a specialist decorator to get the right tones in the room; some paints he had to mix by hand to get the colour perfect.’
Michelle Yunque, Collections and House Manager at Speke Hall, continues, ‘New curtains were made from a silk damask inspired by photographs of Frederick Leyland’s London home, 49 Princes Gate which showed how he mixed and blended silks, velvets and printed cottons in his schemes, and inspired us to add the richness and depth to this space too. These were made by a highly skilled volunteer on the Speke team. New lampshades were commissioned for the billiard table light and the paintings checked by a conservator before a gentle surface clean.’
All the walls and the ceiling in the room have been painted, and the woodwork has been treated by conservator Kevin Jones, who refinished the woodwork around the windows, which had been affected by water, as well as the benches. This varnishing will help the National Trust care for the wood going forward, as they are now able to apply protective waxing as is done with the wood across the property.
Katie finished by saying, ‘Working a in a Grade I listed building meant that great care was taken to understand, document, record and sympathetically repair the room and its scheme using appropriate materials and retaining as much historic evidence as possible. We are proud of the work that’s been done and are excited for visitors to see and enjoy this grand room once again.’
Simon Osborne, General Manager of the National Trust’s Liverpool portfolio of properties said:
“Speke Hall offers a unique insight into Liverpool, Tudor and Victorian society and the Billiard Room is one of the key areas of interest within the historic mansion. So, we are delighted to be able to welcome our visitors to enjoy this unique insight into the Victorian period of this room of changing uses.”
To come and see the results of this painstaking work, visitors can enter Speke Hall itself from Wednesdays to Sundays inclusive, with the Billiard Room reopening from Wednesday 5 August. The renovated room will be open for viewing to all visitors to the House, as well as those who take part in the Victorian Tours that are put on most mornings when the house is open.
Find out more about Speke Hall as well as opening times and tickets information here.