Our love for Stowe

Published: 8th December 2020

At Messenger we feel very lucky to have such a dedicated and experienced team whose many years in the sector can see them re-visit properties over decades. Recently, we spoke with two of our senior management team who over the years (some even before joining the Messenger team!) have worked on the magnificent house and gardens at Stowe in Buckinghamshire. They share an insight into the work they have carried out in the past and what is coming up, and some of their memories of time they have spent there. 

Matthew Webster, our Conservation Director, describes his involvement below.

“I have been fortunate enough to have been involved with this magnificent building over a period of 30 years.

My initial involvement was part of the north front restoration and quality control for the render finishes. I worked on the renowned Marble Saloon securing plaster detail in and around the coffered dome including the spectacular plaster frieze.

Follow on projects included the Music, Egyptian and Blue Rooms, the North Entrance Hall, Headmaster’s office, the Chapel high level render and cornice, South parterre railings and balustrade walling.

We have offered design solutions and provided initial consultation working closely with funders, stakeholders, advisory committees and building users.

Stowe remains one of the country’s finest buildings and one I will never tire of visiting.”

Ian Bird, Regional Director of our Messenger office in Staffordshire describes Stowe House as “a place that I have spent most of my working career on and within. It holds a special fondness within my heart, as the ‘project of my lifetime’.

My first visit to Stowe was in connection with ‘Phase 2’ of the major phasing of external works there. It involved the re-roofing of the central mansion, stone work replacements to the South Elevation and Portico, replacement landings and steps to the South Elevation and interior conservation of the complete Marble Saloon – it was by far the largest project I had been associated with and in all honesty was a scary proposition!

That was nearly 20 years ago and since then we have undertaken a plethora of conservation and restoration projects at Stowe with various professional team and contractors. To date, as well as the projects noted above, I have had the pleasure of working on the following areas:

  • Conservation of the Music room
  • Conservation and restoration of the Library and Ante Library
  • Conservation and restoration of the Blue Room
  • Remodelling of the basement areas into a large visitor attraction and museum area
  • Rear gardens and stone boundary walls
  • Enabling works in connection with bringing the ‘lions’ back to Stowe
  • Conservation and restoration of the North Hall

We currently find ourselves working at Stowe again on the final stages of the ‘Grand restoration plan’ within the Temple Room which includes conservation of the existing ceiling and walls along with structural works and the installation of a new oak floor. This is due for completion in December 2020 where we then move into the State Dining Room for the conservation of the existing ceiling which will take 30 weeks to complete.

It’s a sobering thought that when I started at Stowe I wasn’t married and without kids – my daughter is now 16 and I’m still working there!”

You can read more about the restoration works at the House on the Stowe website here www.stowe.co.uk/house/support-stowe.

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