Brighton Pavilion is one of the most recognised buildings in the UK, but anyone not familiar with it would not be blamed for thinking it was from a far more exotic part of the world than the east coast of Sussex. Its Indo-Saracenic style, popular in India in the nineteenth century, and its oriental inspired interior design makes it one of the most visited tourist attractions in the UK.
Aside from the stunning exterior, Brighton Pavilion also houses a wonderful example of plaster moulding. Lit by nine beautiful chandeliers, the Pavilion’s music room is one of the most impressive in the pavilion, the main feature being the grand gilded dome ceiling. The ceiling is made up from hundreds of plaster cockleshells, which not only reflect the seaside heritage of the city, but add an impressive sense and illusion of height to the room. The intricate plasterwork is offset with the rooms’ largest ornate chandelier at its centre. To learn more about the history of the magnificent music room visit this website.
The Assembly Rooms, Bath
Bath became fashionable during the Georgian era, helping it gain the ‘world heritage city’ title it holds today. The Assembly Rooms sit right in the heart of Bath. Originally built in the eighteenth century to house balls and concerts, today the rooms are owned by the National Trust and hired out for private functions and houses Bath’s famous fashion museum. The opulence of the Assembly Rooms is well documented, getting a mention in two Jane Austin novels as well as ‘The Pickwick Papers’ by Charles Dickens.
The plaster mouldings in The Assembly Rooms are intrinsically Georgian. The main ball room in particular features an abundance of leaf and floral motifs throughout the cornicing and adorning the high and spacious ceilings, whilst the entrance to the Octagon Room has a more understated classical rope detail to its cornicing and a classic and delicate egg and dart design.
The School Hall, Eton College
Eton College is one of Britain’s oldest running education institutions; it was founded by Henry VI in 1440 as a place for educating boys from poor families. Today Eton is not only a school of excellence, it’s also an attraction in terms of architecture and interior design. One of its most impressive rooms is The School Hall, which is used for school assemblies and masters meetings, as well and concerts and private functions. It was built as a memorial to past Etonians who were killed in the Boer war, and with its walls and ceiling laced with incredibly intricate plasterwork, is an impressive tribute. The high ceilings are framed by bold shaped cornicing, whilst long plasterwork garlands of leaves and flowers decorate the arched walls above the windows, creating a beautiful and ornate room ideal for the most important of ceremonies.
Obviously, this list of some of the UK’s best-loved plaster mouldings is in no way extensive. Whether you would like to marvel at the skill of some of the county’s finest plaster craftsmen, or would like some inspiration of how to incorporate mouldings in your own home, try the National Trust for many beautifully decorated properties and for more examples of exquisite plaster mouldings around the UK.
Jon Riley is the Co-Director of Locker & Riley, which is an award-winning fibrous plaster specialist based in Essex and serve the whole of the UK