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Arts and Crafts revival for Mount Grace Priory

Manor House, Mount Grace Priory near Osmotherley
English Heritage is to spend 150,000 restoring two of the Manor House's rooms

Although originally a medieval building, the Manor House at Mount Grace Priory near Osmotherley also has an Arts and Crafts heritage, which is being revived as part of an ambitious new project.

English Heritage is undertaking the scheme which will see two rooms being restored to a vision mapped out by leading designers at the turn of the 20th century.

In its medieval heyday the building was used as a guest house for dignitaries visiting the priory, one of the country's few Carthusian monasteries.

Mount Grace wallpaper
A leading UK manufacturer is to recreate the original wallpaper

After Mount Grace was closed by Henry VIII in 1539, its monks were pensioned off and the manor became a gentleman's residence.

It was extended in the 17th century by Thomas Lascelles. He added two new wings to the house during the Commonwealth period when England was ruled by Oliver Cromwell.

By the 1800s, though, the property had fallen into disrepair and faced a bleak future.

Then it was bought by Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell who had made his fortune in the steel industry.

His purchase proved to be a turning point for the Manor House. Not only was he an advocate of the Arts and Crafts movement, he was also a leading light in the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

He preserved both monastic and Commonwealth features whilst adding his own Arts and Crafts twist, including square black leaded windows which are still visible today.

Sir Lowthian Bell employed leading designers and spent three years on the makeover and restoration.

Workman at Mount Grace Priory in the 1890s
The original workers, circa 1890s, who restored the Manor House

Now English Heritage is to spend £150,000 recreating his vision in two of the Manor House's rooms. A new oak floor will be installed, ceilings replastered and other restoration work undertaken.

A leading UK manufacturer has been commissioned to produce the wallpaper, with each roll taking a week to make.

It will feature a green floral pattern and is based on fragments which have survived.

Experts have also unearthed other clues about the rooms' original appearance from a 1945 inventory of furniture and the original architect's drawing from 1898.

Grainy period photographs have also helped with the restoration including a sepia picture handed in anonymously by a local man. He'd found it in an old drawer and it shows workmen employed by the Priory's owner, Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell.

The newly restored rooms in the Manor House at Mount Grace Priory are expected to open to the public in July 2010.

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