The Rochester Bridge Trust has paved the way for heritage experts to probe further into a patch of mysterious paintings and scrollwork recently uncovered at Eastgate House.
The Trust presented the Friends of Eastgate House with a £2,000 grant to help the preservation team to delve deeper into the partially revealed details, found on sections of the historic Rochester High Street building’s second floor and attic walls.
Tests will be carried out to determine the extent and condition of the decorations, which are thought to date back to the late 16th Century, but which have been hidden under layers of paint until last year.
This investigatory work will then be used to help plan the precise details of a wider £2.1 million restoration and transformation of the grade one listed building, immortalised by Charles Dickens as the basis for Westgate in his novel The Pickwick Papers and then the Nun’s House in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Richard Moss, Chairman of the Friends of Eastgate House, said: “On behalf of the Friends I would like to thank the Trust for the generous grant.
“This funding will help to significantly add to the understanding of the historic decoration in Eastgate House, enabling us to incorporate these works into the restoration plans of the building, which is due to re-open to the public in 2015.
“The grant from the Trust is vital to the success of the overall restoration and visitor offer of Eastgate House.”
Sue Threader Bridge Clerk to the Rochester Bridge Trust, said: “Rochester Bridge Trust has a proud tradition of making grants to safeguard the historic fabric of important heritage buildings across the county.
“We have a particular interest in Eastgate House because Sir Peter Bucke, who built the house in the 1590s and lived there for many years, was a long-serving member of the Bridge Trust from 1602 to 1624. His son, also called Peter, was a member of the Trust for a further 27 years, and both served as Warden several times.
“We are thrilled that this grant, and the vital research that it will finance, will help shape the long-term future of Eastgate House.”
The closing date for applications in the Trust’s current grant programme is June 28.
1. The Rochester Bridge Trust is a charitable trust that exists to maintain the old and new bridges at Rochester and serve the travelling public. It is the only surviving bridge trust still serving its original purpose, and it has served the people of Kent since 1399. The Trust also supports numerous community and education projects across historic Kent and Medway.
2. The Trust’s assets all derive from endowments of land and money in the 14th and 15th centuries and are carefully managed in order to provide an income to fund bridge maintenance and local charitable grants. The Trust receives no external funding and is regulated by the Charity Commission.
3. The Friends of Eastgate House were formed to support the conservation work at Eastgate House and have pledged to raise sufficient funds to cover the cost of investigating and conserving the wall paintings as part of the overall scheme. For further information on the Friends visit www.friendsofeastgatehouse.org, email email@example.com or telephone 01634 813643.
For more information:
The Rochester Bridge Trust
Kent ME1 1QE
Tel: 01634 846706
Fax: 01634 840125