Documentary series. Work at Avebury Manor finally gets under way, but will the National Trust accept the outlandish colour scheme being proposed for the Queen's bedroom?
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In Wiltshire sits an empty, 500-year-old country house.
We want to breathe new life into Avebury Manor,
and to reopen the house to the public in a few months' time.
I think it's going to be a long, drawn-out process.
I think you can call it a challenge.
It will be a stately home like no other.
A place where visitors can touch everything,
sit on the chairs...
..even lie on the beds.
This one is all about complete interaction with people.
We'll be making most of the furniture from scratch...
This is absolutely fantastic.
..with only a few antiques to add to the mix.
We're going to be bold...
-Oh, my goodness!
-..and take risks.
But we have to convince the National Trust we're right every step of the way.
-I'm saying this is wrong.
It's the ultimate stately home challenge.
Making a four-poster bed fit for Tudor newlyweds,
real log fires in the manor - can we have them?
Taking the waters, Queen Anne fashion...
Off to Jamaica in the footsteps of a former Lord of the Manor,
and it it's time to plant our Victorian kitchen garden.
It's summer solstice in Wiltshire - the longest day of the year
and the biggest date in the Avebury calendar.
Pagans and Druids, and just about anyone else interested
have gathered to celebrate sunrise at Avebury stone circle.
It's such a powerful feeling knowing this event has been celebrated unbroken for thousands of years,
right back to early civilisation, possibly to the Bronze Age.
This predates Avebury Manor, and I'd imagine these wonderful
big stones were once the ancient capital of this country.
A new day dawns at Avebury Manor.
CHURCH BELLS RINGING
There's a wedding at the church, and the house comes into its own
as the backdrop for those special pictures.
Lord and Lady of the Manor for a day.
400 years ago, there was another wedding here
that changed the fortunes of Avebury Manor.
Tudor newlyweds Deborah and James Mervyn started married life here in 1601.
And this is their bedroom,
which we want to take back to that very moment.
Above the fine panelling is a spectacular plaster frieze with vines and acanthus leaves -
Tudor symbols of fertility and rebirth, perfect for a bedroom -
and strange figures that symbolise the cycle of life.
Before putting paint onto plaster,
Grant rehearses the colour scheme on paper.
The Tudor age was an age of colour.
Even on paper you can see the whole thing come alive.
All the paints we are using on the walls and ceilings of Avebury
will be water-based so the plaster can breathe.
No putting off the moment -
Grant begins by painting one small section in its entirety
so we can see if we've got it right.
The plan is to finish this one off so it's complete,
then take some photos and send them to Russell,
just to OK it and then proceed with the whole thing.
Project designer Russell Sage and our historian, Dan Cruickshank,
are back in Avebury to look at the bed Russell bought at auction last week.
The gentleman at the back there, at 2,200, selling now...
The bidding went higher than we'd hoped,
so it had better be a good buy.
Right. This is our Tudor bed.
The urgent question is, can it be converted into a grand, four-poster bed?
Obviously we've got quite a lot of work to do.
I think that's a bit of an understatement.
It's a lovely thing, Russell, well done.
I know the catalogue said 1660, didn't it?
-It looks much earlier.
-I think it is, parts of it.
It's lacking bits and pieces, clearly.
What's your first impressions, Dave?
-It's going to need a bit of work, isn't it?
In effect, we're putting a completely new structure round the outside of it.
The columns, the structure survives, of course.
You repair it, make it strong, big columns...
Yes, but there's a structure outside it.
For hundreds of years, people have added pieces,
-and we're taking a fabulous antique and making it...
-As people have done in the past.
Transforming our modest bed into something spectacular is going to be a tricky operation.
So, while our bed heads north to Herefordshire to begin its makeover,
it's off to see a real four-poster in all its glory.
In Tudor times, a bed was the most expensive thing people owned,
and at Sulgrave Manor in Oxfordshire, I've come to see a beautiful example,
and, uniquely, I'm allowed to lie on it,
so it's a perfect model for us.
'Here to meet me is our other Avebury expert, Anna Whitelock.'
-Hello, Anna. How are you?
-Very well, thank you.
-Welcome to the bedchamber.
This is the object in the house that would have the wow factor.
It's very much the hub of the household and the heart of the home,
and it was worth about a third of household assets.
So you'd have this enclosed space which would be brilliantly carved,
and it had some quite interesting figures on it.
And would you be able to tell how rich my family was
by the amount of, say, carving?
Yes, the amount of carving and also the bed hangings.
These bed hangings aren't original, the bed itself is.
And you'd have a bedspread, as well?
Yes, shall we walk round here?
Let me talk you through what we've got.
So, if we crouch down here, you can see here we've got
straw on the top, but underneath we have ropes, creating this frame.
-Over the top we've then got a straw mattress.
Over the top of that we would have a sort of flock mattress.
-This might have horse hair or wool, maybe even rags.
No, feathers is the next mattress.
Now, this is expensive, and this then makes for a comfortable bed.
-Do you want to sit on it and have a try?
Oh! Gosh, it's much softer than I thought.
Yes, I don't think it would quite suit me,
because I need a firmer bed for my back.
Now, Deborah and James at Avebury are going to move in.
They've spent a third of their budget on a bed - why?
-It was pretty expensive, wasn't it? Can I join you?
Well, in a way this kind of frames our story, really.
The thing I love about a bed is it's like a stage,
and it really was a stage for life.
We've got almost these curtains that you'd draw with each different scene.
And, of course, those scenes would be births, marriages,
convalescence, death, would all be witnessed in this bed.
Now, shall we get ready for bed?
-Why don't you hop on the bed?
-Get yourself comfortable.
So, now, you've gone to sleep,
it might be about nine or ten o'clock at night,
and the point to remember is that in Tudor England you never slept alone.
You'd always have someone there as your bedfellow.
Whether or not the master of the household was there,
you would also have a handy little spot for someone else.
This is a truckle or a trundle bed
that, as you can see, comes out on wheels under the bed.
-Isn't that brilliant?
Basically, it would be where your servant would sleep.
-Very small ones.
-Yeah, it wasn't about comfort.
So you would be lying in luxury and your servant would be down here.
Of course, if the master was away,
then the servant might get promoted, as it were, to be your bedfellow.
-For conversation and security and warmth.
And, finally, at the end of a busy, busy day...
You draw the curtains - how lovely.
And you get to have a good night's sleep, and that is the Tudor bed.
Good night, Anna, thank you.
No time to sleep back at the manor.
The boys are arriving with their scaffolding.
It's all heading upstairs,
where we're starting work on the grandest room in the house.
For as long as anyone can remember,
this has been known as the Queen Anne bedroom.
And when a monarch came to stay you got decorating.
This is the colour scheme the Trust is most worried about,
but, if we get it right, no-one's going to forget this room in a hurry.
First up, the ceiling.
The basic idea is to have a stormy, cloud sky on this coving part.
I think it's going to be a few different shades of grey.
I'm not quite sure how distinguished the clouds are going to be.
The walls will be marbled -
that is, painted to give the illusion of real marble.
It was an effect extremely fashionable in the early 1700s.
It takes a skilled painter to pull it off,
but Colin's one of the best.
The marble effect comes with a little bit of work on it,
softening edges out, making it a little bit harder.
A lot of it's about suggestion, just trying to get a bit of depth.
If it looks a bit naive then I don't mind that,
because I think this is just the base.
Many grand English houses had marbled paint schemes,
but, as tastes changed, they've been painted over and lost forever.
Some were very bold, mixing pink, red and orange -
pretty outrageous, like ours is going to be.
Queen Anne probably came to stay at Avebury in the early 1700s,
on her way to take the thermal waters at Bath.
She was often ill,
not helped by a good deal of overeating and drinking,
and believed the waters made her better.
The road to Bath was a long and treacherous one.
It was little more than a well-worn path with ditches and potholes,
and, depending on weather, it could take three days at the very least.
So, even though she was travelling in the royal carriage,
the journey can't have been an easy one.
The beautiful and historic city of Bath.
For more than 2,000 years, people have believed in the curative powers of its thermal springs,
which bubble up from deep inside the earth.
I've got a twinge in my neck, and Dan's limping a bit.
I wonder if it'll do us any good.
-This looks rather exclusive.
'Back in the late 17th and early 18th centuries,
'this was the favourite bath of the royal family,
'so Queen Anne knew it from an early age.'
I noticed outside in gold it says "the Cross Bath." Why Cross?
There was a cross here commemorating its use
by the wife of James II in 1688.
A cross was put up for Mary of Modena
because she found it so beneficial to bathe here for her health,
-and this is the bath that Queen Anne came to.
-So she would have dipped in here?
-Yes, in the Cross Bath.
This was more fashionable, more exclusive, more private.
Down there's the King's Bath,
that was public, and a bit alarming, I imagine.
When Queen Anne was here, would people be able to see her bathing?
-No, I'm pretty sure not.
-But it was open to the elements.
Yes, but screened from public gaze.
I'm sure when she came she'd have had sole use.
So, if you and I go in, will we feel wonderful tomorrow?
-I've never done it.
-I think we should.
-I've got a slightly bad knee.
-I want to be a new woman tomorrow.
Let's start, right, let's get our clothes off.
-I'm off in here.
-I'm in here.
'So, it's into our 18th-century bathing gear.'
'Oh, dear, what do we look like?
'Dan's got trouble with his gusset,
'and my weighted modesty gown weighs a tonne.
In Queen Anne's time, doctors believed a dip at Bath
could restore the balance of what they called "the bodily humours."
-It's beautiful and warm.
-Beautiful and warm.
Where it's gone wrong for me... I haven't got lead in my knickers!
I'm not sure what's happening.
Ohhh! It's very like getting into a bath of...
-As for my modesty lead weights...
-I'm not looking, it's all right.
No, please don't.
Right, my Japan bowl is now floating,
with my handkerchief.
-Right, this is doing my joints a lot of good, is it?
-I hope so.
-Other things as well.
-What is it...
-What is in the water that's good for us?
People thought a lot of diseases were to do with an imbalance of the humours,
so if you were too cold and too moist you needed to be heated up.
Well, I'm moist and warm, so...
This is good, because this water's meant to increase the humour to do with...making you drier.
So it makes you drier and hotter.
So I suppose Queen Anne, she came here for that reason.
Because she had a particular problem with all these children, didn't she?
-And none of them...
So I suppose it was to do with fertility, to do with the kidneys...
So it was a sort of all-purpose thing, and do you know what,
I think...I think there's something in it.
-I think I'm going to get out in a moment.
Because otherwise the weight of my clothes will weigh me down.
-I am rather enjoying it.
-Well, have a nice time, and you swim around.
I've had my swim.
In Avebury, the volunteers are hard at work,
ready for the first day's planting in our Victorian kitchen garden.
The seedlings and young plants,
grown by students at Wiltshire Agricultural College, are arriving.
It's the day our head gardener, David Howard, has been waiting for.
Now we'll get an idea if the mix of vegetables and flowers will actually work.
That must be the first bit of colour that we've got in the garden.
This is fantastic.
Plants are starting to arrive, the sun's come out now, lots of help.
We're going to get this planted today.
'Just ten weeks ago, this is how the garden looked.
'Now I'm back to see the changes for myself.'
Wow! What a difference. Oh, it's stunning. It's wonderful.
-Welcome to my garden.
-Well, it's been spread around a little bit.
-These are all the veg?
-Yes, yes. Carrots...and... and beetroot and...spinach.
And what we've done is we've mixed the flowers in with
the vegetables, so already we've got some colour here
in the garden with the marigolds.
Yes. Now, this is a National Trust garden,
and people when they go to a National Trust garden
go round in awe.
But I want them to be able to walk in the gate and say, "Wow,"
in the same way as I did.
But I did it because I realised what it was like before.
When they come in here, all this will have grown together,
but will they be able to say, "Wow"?
It'll be stunning. Trust...trust me.
-Vegetables can be really fantastic, visually stunning.
I believe you.
The picturesque market town of Honiton in Devon.
And Russell's here to check out some panelling
that might help us out with our Tudor bed.
We chatted about it on the phone the other day but I'm so glad you've still got it.
When I saw it a few weeks ago I thought it might do
the job I need, which is... We need these bits, for a bed.
They are absolutely fantastic and I'm sure will keep Dan
very, very happy.
When we spoke on the phone we said...it's down as 17th-century,
but it might be a little bit earlier, you think?
-It could be anything from 1590 to 1610.
Well, 1590 is our magical date.
I think it's absolutely fantastic and, yes, please, I'll take it.
This is the Herefordshire workshop of the Four Poster Bed Company,
where we'll be performing major surgery on our Tudor bed
to make it grand enough for Avebury.
Dan's here to keep an eager eye on things.
He's worried because we're about to commit an act of vandalism.
Master joiner Stephen Edwards is ready with his tools.
The basic frame is probably 17th-century.
Mm, that'll be fairly humble.
You won't see this on the Antiques Roadshow.
Non-destructible and reversible. Oh, no, it's come off easily, look.
-Got to be fairly gentle.
There's one there. Where is there one? Oh, look at that.
So this will just simply go almost like that, won't it?
So the figure goes roughly forward a bit, isn't it? Up a bit.
I think we'll have to have something a little bit wider to sit that onto.
She'll go in the middle like that, thereabouts.
And there's number three.
The figures will be the ornamentation on the newly-made headboard,
a healthy mix of new and old.
-Lady in the middle.
-Lady in the middle.
And we've got one either side there.
Yeah, it's coming together.
But it's just the start.
Bedposts have to be made,
and the canopy, all with the right Tudor mouldings.
So that, really, is the detail, isn't it?
We've left that off.
So they normally come in like that, don't they?
-So that's where we'd have the natural split.
It's a precision operation
and everything has to be sturdy
to allow the visitors to bounce on the bed, should they wish to!
Just screw that one up like that. Grab one of these.
That should be about right.
Meanwhile, back at the manor, painting is breaking out all over.
No square inch is safe from a spot of new colour.
Colin is giving the Queen Anne marbling yet another layer.
And Grant's still at work on the Tudor frieze. It's painstaking.
I think it's looking pretty good.
I haven't painted many Tudor friezes before in my life!
But, um, by all accounts they're all very kind of simple,
just flat colour.
And quite simply painted.
And all you're trying to do is put colour into something
that is essentially a relief,
so...it's...it's there, doing its job anyway.
The heart of any house is the kitchen,
and we want to turn the clock back 100 years.
The kitchen used to look like this, so we want to find
an identical Victorian range to fit back in the chimney.
News reaches us there's a house being demolished
just outside Liverpool that has a 100-year-old range.
It's an amazing stroke of luck,
but we've got just six hours to get it out or be buried alive trying.
Neville Griffiths is a salvage expert,
but even he is excited about our find.
You come in here...
I mean, you've got a wonderful original cooking range,
one of the best of its type.
This is probably at the height of the late 19th century.
As you can see, it's a double oven, it's got all the hot plates,
it's got the dampers.
These are for controlling, for roasting, baking, the boiler.
Full fronts on the top.
"Large fire, only for roasting in front."
And I would think if you're going to roast in front there
you would need to drop this down so you've got a deep fire.
The problem is those Victorian engineers did their job too well.
No, I can't get enough weight on it.
That's a pain in the arse.
Come on, boys.
Ah, here's someone else to help.
It may be brute force
and the rest of the demolition crew in here shortly.
The only option is to come at it from behind.
This is pretty tough old horrible stuff, isn't it?
That's it. Well done.
The whole thing's now starting to move.
That doesn't look safe, does it, Pete? Right, hang on a minute.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. First break. First break.
A piece has broken off one of the doors.
That was just taking your eye off the ball for a few seconds
and unfortunately that's what happens. Erm...
So, I mean...it can be repaired but it's disappointing.
Back at Neville's workshop, the rescue job starts in earnest.
That was bloody good. Cor, I haven't felt that good for ages.
Neville and his team are dismantling,
and rebuilding the whole thing to bring the range back
to its former glory.
-We just have to be careful...
Nothing broken, then(?)
You actually see it come to life as you're cleaning it.
You're the first person that's seen that since this was cast.
It looks absolutely beautiful. Beautiful.
In Sturminster Marshall, Dorset, they aren't in the business of restoration,
but making antiques that are brand-new. The antiques of the future.
I've got these other pictures for this table.
It's the empire of maverick furniture maker Johnny Sainsbury.
Oh, that's fantastic. It's going to look fantastic.
Making high-quality period furniture from scratch
has been central to our project from day one,
but it's always worried our historical expert Dan,
who doubts the quality will be good enough.
So Russell's brought him along to meet Johnny and hopefully reassure him.
-He can do it for us, of course.
-The point is he doesn't make fakes.
-They're just reproductions, aren't they?
-Yeah. But copied faithfully.
-Hi there. How are you? Jonathan Sainsbury.
-This is Dan. How are you?
Very well, Lord Sage. Nice to see you.
Dan accepts we're going to make new furniture,
but it's got to be accurate in design and construction.
I think he's going to give Johnny the third degree.
-Do you have anything that could be more of a 17...
-A look for that?
It looks pretty good to me.
We try as close as we can to make them
exactly as they would have been made.
So is Dan convinced?
It's like, in one's fantasy, going back to the mid-18th century,
as if you were walking around Chippendale's workshop.
-It is like that.
-I recognise a lot of the designs. You know, here.
If Dan gives the thumbs-up,
Johnny is going to make quite a bit of furniture for Avebury.
So what's the verdict, yes or no? Professor Cruickshank?
It's a strange, uncanny, almost unnerving dreamland.
This furniture is what one sees in books,
in museums and great country houses, and here it is.
I mean, I recognise a lot of it, you know, with the Chippendale design.
This fretwork here. But it's...it's new!
It's new and available and here in quantity.
I do feel this is another of those hurdles we've got over for Avebury.
We can, I'm sure now, get good furniture that's going to look right,
have the right quality, and be robust.
That's really important, that people can use the furniture,
kids can sit on it and jump on it if they want to.
So, good, good, good, good, good.
Back at the manor, the Georgian dining room is being spruced up
ready for the Chinese wallpaper.
This room has the grandest architectural details,
and when it's finished we want this to be
one of the big eye-openers for visitors.
This was the favourite room of Avebury's most flamboyant occupant,
Adam Williamson, military hero and former governor of Jamaica.
We're taking it back to the height of fashion in the 1790s,
when Williamson threw extravagant parties
here at Avebury. He also indulged in
a peculiar form of after-dinner entertainment.
It was one way to burn off the calories.
So I'm off to a little-known museum in east London
where I can have fun too, the Williamson way.
This is the chamber horse, and it was designed to give you
all the beneficial effects of riding a horse,
but in the comfort of your own home.
And it was designed to shake up the liver
to clean the blood of all those toxins and poisons
brought on by excessive alcohol and rich foods
and, I tell you what, it's a wonderful contraption.
'All we have to do now is make one,
'but Johnny is pretty confident all it needs is a seat full of springs,
'a chair frame that can take a few knocks
'and a master craftsman.
'In fact, he's already got started.'
Yeah, so this is the exercise chair as to where we're at so far.
As you can see, it's a bigger thing than you'd ever really imagine.
This here is the upright grasping pole.
It's fixed to the base and fixed through to the arm.
That will give it massive amounts of stability.
Then, applied to the top, will be these little turnings
just giving a little bit of sharpness and decorative.
The back still has to be cut out and finished
and that has a light carved edge round it.
The drawer, here, is all made and constructed using
18th-century timbers with 18th-century hardware,
and this pulls out to act as a foot rest.
After that's completed, we have to then send it off
to our leather people who will put all the seat working mechanisms in
and then we'll be done and ready for some exercise.
As governor of Jamaica, Williamson was accustomed to the good life.
In the late 18th century, Jamaica was the biggest money-spinning
colony in the British Empire,
and Williamson indulged every moment of it.
This is King's House, where Adam Williamson lived.
It sits in Parade Square, a slice of Georgian England
at the heart of Spanish Town.
And what a house!
More a palace, really.
I'm rather hoping some of the photographs that I'm taking will give
Russell some inspiration for the dining room. That architectural
detail and just getting the feel and the dynamic of it.
It was here that Williamson got his taste for the grand life.
His banquets were legendary.
The guests were the rich plantation owners.
The household servants were slaves, paid for by the British government.
On the orders of the king, and to recognise his services as governor,
Williamson was knighted in this very square.
Local historian, Diane Franklin, has researched this grand occasion.
What you have to imagine, you know, Paul,
is that this square would have been filled with people
and as we were... As the procession was moving from here,
you have to imagine that
they were walking two-by-two. All the military officials
carrying crimson cushions with state swords
and banners and the music was playing.
You would have had people in their grand finery
and they would have literally been awash with colour
and ceremony and pomp.
Would the plantation owners be here as well?
Oh, yes. You would have had all of the plantation owners
who had townhouses in the town at the time.
Most of the plantation owners who had homes here
-where the wealthiest.
-All eager to make friends with the governor?
Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
Because this was saying thanks to a wonderful man.
Williamson has gone down in history as a mild and humane man,
if overly fond of his drink and a little disorganised.
During his time a governor, 1,000 new slaves arrived
in Jamaica every month, bound for a life of enforced servitude
as the property of a plantation owner.
Many became domestic servants, but the majority
were headed for the sugar fields.
The work was back-breaking, the day was 18 hours long,
the punishments were harsh for weakness or disobedience.
This was the world over which Adam Williamson presided.
He was in power at a seminal time in slave history,
but everything I've heard makes me feel that, potentially,
he was more lenient in his dealings with slaves,
albeit restricted to the thinking of the day.
Williamson championed the rights of slaves
to serve in the British Army,
which was regarded as progressive at the time,
although the life of a soldier was hardly carefree.
During his time on the island, he personally owned just one slave,
who worked as his manservant.
So, what are we to make of slave owners today?
I've come to the Good Hope Plantation to ask historian Dr Alric Joseph.
The planter class lived in fear.
Fear of what the large body of enslaved blacks would do to them
if given the chance.
-And your relationship to slaves, or the enslaved in that society,
will give you your position in society.
If you're an owner, usually white, you'd be at the top.
Though there were some coloureds, free black, who owned slaves -
because slaves were property, right - and even if you were sometimes
reluctant to be a slave owner, you invariably became one
because you need servants,
and those were the available servants.
Everybody was touched by this institution,
this infamous institution, slavery.
Williamson returned to England in 1796,
where he embraced the more affable role of Lord of the Manor.
Avebury, like so many stately homes, is touched by slavery.
Back at the house, the Queen Anne marbling is really coming along.
Stippling, sponging and marbling, it's layer upon layer
to get the vibrancy we want.
We know the Trust is nervous about this scheme and we're
going to have to show it to them before long.
Lots to do.
But I want proof that what we're doing is right.
Our scheme is very bold, and with all the English examples
of outrageous marbling long since painted over,
I'm going to have to look further afield.
Holland - pretty as a postcard.
This is the town of Zutphen,
just north of Amsterdam.
In the late 17th century and early 18th century,
everything Dutch was the height of fashion in England.
I'm here with Dan and we're heading for the brilliant palace of Het Loo.
-This is the palace?
-They wouldn't call it a palace...
-..they'd call it a house of pleasure.
-Oh, a house of pleasure.
-That sounds better.
It's so neat and tidy that it doesn't look as though it's going to be very pleasurable.
Well, that's fascinating. That's the great fashion at the moment,
the austere architecture - externally austere -
the beauty coming from proportions, but wait till you see inside.
In every room, there's a fantastic mixture of real marble
and marble paint effects. Queen Anne's sister,
Mary, lived here. So, where better to find
justification for our Queen Anne bedroom?
Though, it is a little grander than Avebury.
-A very grand staircase.
-The main staircase, yes, it's, um...
-Now, it's designed in the 1680s...
-To knock you out?
Well, indeed. And imagine bathed in sunlight
-it would be pulsating with colour.
-And, of course, when you look
you think that's a pillar.
This is the point, it's creating three-dimensional space in two-dimensional surfaces.
Creating exotic landscape in exotic materials. You can't work out
what's really 3D and what's actually 2D.
Typical of this illusion and delusion,
-this is not a wall, but it's a door.
This is Queen Mary's bedroom, created for her about 1686,
-and a wonderful example of...
-A marble fireplace.
Well, ah, now you say marble, this is the point,
-it isn't all...
-That's marble. Yes, and that is...
-And it's beautifully done.
All the colours are so right, you see.
And these are the sort of colours,
-the balances that we're going for at Avebury.
-But what is
the practical thing? Was it the fact that this was cheaper,
the painting, or was it less heavy on the floor?
Well, it was cheaper and that was an issue and, indeed, less weight,
but really, I think, largely it was to create a delightful
-Yeah, to amuse people coming into the room.
"How can I delight and amuse the Queen if and when she comes to stay?
"I know, we'll have a marble bedroom."
But the marbling that I think we're going to have
is very loud for a bedroom.
That's why it's glorious to come here.
People may say, "Oh, my goodness, what they've done is so vulgar."
But basically, marbling can be seen, as we look around here,
as pretty ostentatious, pretty loud, almost vulgar.
It's a wonderful experience.
It shows us marbling as it would have looked
in the late 17th century.
So we've got it right.
Well, I'm convinced.
Back at Avebury, it's time for the National Trust to give its verdict.
Will curator Lucy Armstrong be won over? I'm not so sure.
Cor, blimey, it's strong colours!
I mean, if we're talking about personal taste, it's quite loud.
There's a lot of hard work that's gone into it.
There's many layers, I can see that.
Well, they certainly know to paint, don't they, these guys?
I think the quality, the standard of the painting
when it's all finished will be really impressive.
As ever, there's issues of whether it should be marbled or not,
but this is what you've got, isn't it?
Oh, dear. And things are about to get even more tricky.
Work's started on the Tudor bedroom ceiling,
the one thing Lucy really didn't want painted.
Suddenly a whole menagerie
of Tudor birds and beasts are bursting alive with colour.
So, are we right?
This is the town of Conwy on the coast of North Wales.
Visitors come to Plas Mawr
to marvel at its bright and cheery plasterwork.
And it was built at the same time as Avebury.
Anna is here to check out how the painted ceilings
compare to what we're doing with our Tudor ceiling.
She's heading upstairs to the main room in the house.
Here we are in the great chamber.
Ceiling adorned with emblems, Tudor roses,
colour and vibrancy and a real spectacle.
There's something so refreshingly modern,
but at the same time, completely authentic to the period.
And it really does break the mould in terms of our expectation,
I think, and visitors come in
and are completely shocked by what they see.
It's a feast for the eyes.
Brighton on the south coast.
And some late-night work is under way on the elaborate carvings
needed for the Tudor bed.
Ray is creating a frieze of pomegranates and vine leaves,
more Tudor fertility symbols for our newlyweds.
The carvings will make up three sides of the bed,
just below the canopy.
Ray's been carving, man and boy, for 60 years.
So there's not much he doesn't know about wood and how to handle it.
Anyone can learn to carve.
But to advance, you have to be a bit artistic,
then whatever you can draw you can carve.
In old Victorian days, woodcarving used to be a gentleman's hobby.
They all had their little set of carving tools.
Nowadays as a hobby it's great.
You can take as long as you want on carving, you don't have to rush it.
Because this is all wanted in a hurry,
it means starting early and working a bit later.
Once it's finished, Ray's work will head north to Herefordshire
to be united with the rest of the bed.
I hope the measurements are right.
Hopefully, the frieze has arrived now,
so we can start to put the top of the bed together.
Which will be great, we've been waiting for this for about a week.
So we ought to have a look at it and see what it looks like.
I'm sure Ray's done a smashing job.
There you go. Look at that. He's done a lovely job, hasn't he?
Next stage, staining the timber so it matches the old.
And in no time at all, the wood takes on the patina of age.
It was only the rich and the wealthy that could afford a bed like this.
The royalty, the noblemen.
It was a sign of wealth. That's what people aspired to.
We're trying to speed the process up of wear.
You've got the tools and the know-how
and the techniques these days of making a super job.
You don't want them fitting too well, because 400 years,
you wouldn't get that.
In some respects it's crazy, but it's what the client wants,
so it's what we're trying to do.
Montrose, on the north-east coast of Scotland.
Home to the last handloom linen weaver working in Britain.
Ian Dale is already at work on our Tudor bed hangings and bedspread.
The warp feeds in from one direction towards the weaver,
the weft, a single thread,
is added by the shuttle flying at high speed from right to left.
If required, the Jacquard instructs hundreds of individual cords
to rise and fall at precise moments.
The result, a beautiful pattern.
-Here we have a hemp cord.
So it can take a tremendous strain.
'Like the bed at Sulgrave Manor,
'the mattresses will be supported by rope.'
-So that'll take a very heavy person in bed?
Oh, there we are! That's fine.
So, this is ticking, I know,
I recognise that from pillows when I was little.
This will make the top mattress for the bed, the bolster and the pillows.
At the bottom of each hanging we will have hand-made fringing.
That is glorious. Oh, that'll look terribly pretty, won't it?
I want a suit made of that. And it lights so beautifully. Look at that.
We've called it Tudor Green.
'And this material will make up the hangings.'
So this will be our bedspread, but it looks a bit plain
in comparison to all the lovely hangings.
Yes, Penelope, we will send this off
to the ladies at the Royal School of Needlework,
and onto that they will actually embroider in crow work
the eyelets from the peacock that's actually in the room on the ceiling.
-Peacock eyes all over it?
-All over it.
-That's very exciting.
And the ladies from the Royal School of Needlework,
suitably based at Hampton Court Palace,
have already begun work on the peacock eyes for our bed.
Anna's here to give them a helping hand.
I'm in the right place, Royal School of Needlework.
Come with me, come with me. I think we're through here.
I'm looking for embroiderers. And here they are.
A gaggle of embroiderers, or a gossip of embroiderers,
whatever the collective noun is.
They're not doing much gossiping, which is a shame.
I'm looking for Margaret.
Margaret is there. Brilliant. Hi, Margaret. Thanks for having me here.
-Are you going to tell me about embroidery?
-And maybe even show me how to do it.
First of all, why don't you tell me about what you're doing here,
cos you're brilliantly now working for us at Avebury Manor,
and all of your band of merry men and women are sewing away peacock eyes.
Peacock eyes. This was the original that was sent to us.
What we've done is matched wool to the colours on here.
And we've tried to reproduce what would have been used originally,
so it's exactly the same fabric.
-Same fabric, same wool, same variation in colours?
-Yes, this would have been used.
-Wow. So you could be a Tudor gentlewoman?
You could have dressed up!
-So now, show me what you're doing here.
-I think you should have a go.
-Right, so, needle underneath.
-How exciting. What if I mess it up?
You won't. So you come up somewhere in the green, like there. Yeah.
Pull your needle through.
-It's quite tough, actually.
-It is quite tough, yeah.
-It's quite coarse fabric, isn't it?
-So take the needle through.
Oh, is that all right? What's happening?
That's not tied off at the end.
How long does it take to do a peacock eye?
One like this might take about three or four hours,
-depending on how quick you go.
And how many people have you got working on these peacock eyes?
I think we've got about 32 or 33 people.
Some doing more than one, so we should have lots.
So we should have 40 or so, maybe, peacock eyes. Fantastic.
And what you think of this?
Very good for a first attempt. I think it's fine.
Wow. I'm quite proud of myself!
Back in our Victorian kitchen garden,
the vegetables have simply shot up.
But there's bad news for David. There's been an invasion.
Definitely rabbits here in the garden,
because these rows of carrots, if you look carefully,
you can see at the start of the row, the foliage is much shorter
and at the back it's much taller and a luscious green.
The rabbits have started on the outside here,
they're nibbling their way through it,
and if we don't stop them soon, the whole row will disappear.
It's time to fortify the garden.
That's rock-steady now.
It doesn't look very rabbit-proof to me.
Yeah, the rabbit can't get through it, can he?
I think they're already planning their next attack.
Just look at all these rabbits waiting to get in the garden.
There's a problem in the Tudor bedroom.
The muted colours of the frieze aren't working
with the vivid ceiling.
Russell's called in Anna to discuss what to do next.
Tell me about another one of your sleepless nights.
Only a short sleepless night!
When you did your research at Plas Mawr, we all thought,
"Bright colours on the ceiling."
And I'd always imagined that the bright colours would be so different
that our frieze and our bright colours could operate together.
And Grant's been working away at it, and we aren't sure.
We've painted a few out, going, "Does it look better
"if it's knocked back a bit?" but I feel like we need to change game.
To be honest, I thought the frieze colours would be brighter,
and therefore there wouldn't be that tension between
what was on the ceiling and the frieze, which there is.
It isn't quite the colours, I thought it would have been brighter.
-It's what we got.
-It's what we've got, and it's great.
But we don't want to undermine the brilliance of the frieze
by having a kind of overstated ceiling, we want it to tie in.
I have to take Grant out for a drink now and apologise to him!
-And start again.
So it's agreed, we take the colours of the frieze up
and the colours on the ceiling down.
Poor old Grant. Russell certainly does owe him a drink.
Right. Yeah, that's done.
Time for Lucy to pronounce judgment. Can we win her over this time?
I don't know. It's just a bit of a shame, really.
Simply because we've done the research,
we've done the actual archaeology on the plasterwork itself,
and it wasn't painted.
This was never painted, and the ceilings weren't painted,
so...it's a bit of a shame.
Just checking on the fire now to see whether the fire can be tested.
For as long as anyone can remember,
there have been no open fires at Avebury.
We want them in every room to bring the house back to life,
but it's not looking hopeful.
As you can see, it's full of twigs and bits and pieces.
Most of the chimneys need lots of work to fix them.
Above all, we want the kitchen fireplace to work for our range.
Just disappear back out into the garden and have a look.
At first, the signs are encouraging.
At least the smoke is coming out of the chimney.
And my torch has gone wrong!
But it's the same story all over the house.
It's going to cost too much to fix.
Now you know why I asked for those smoke alarms to be switched off.
This won't take long to set them off!
And our dream of open fires goes up in smoke.
That concludes all of them.
Even so, we're not going to give up
on our dream of a working kitchen range.
Neville's back. What was a rusting hulk is now in tip-top order.
Phew! It fits in perfectly.
Once again, a Wellstood range is back in Avebury Manor.
But the final piece, and the most pleasure you get,
is when you actually see these working.
And it's a bit of a tradition amongst a few of us
over the years, whenever we finish a job, we always have a fire.
Even though we're not really supposed to have one,
we know the chimney works.
Neville, you really shouldn't.
Look at that!
To be able to have a fire, it's been a really great adventure.
And if we stay here much longer, we'll be having dinner off it.
Well, we haven't burned Avebury down yet.
Next time on The Manor Reborn...
Silk weaving by royal appointment.
Putting a sting back in the garden.
We can't find the queen! I think she's done a runner.
SCREAMING AND LAUGHTER
The rabbits strike back.
Ha-ha! I got him!
A slimy intruder gets in the way.
Crowning glory to our Queen Anne bed.
-It's certainly going to be impressive.
Making carpets, Tudor style.
A call to arms for pots and pans.
I'm not happy with this design.
Passions run high.
And China, to make the most exquisite of wallpapers.
This is just mind-blowing!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Work at Avebury Manor finally gets under way, but will the National Trust accept the outlandish colour scheme being proposed for the Queen's bedroom? Designer Russell Sage sets about renovating the run-down bed he bought at auction into a four-poster fit for Tudor nobles.
Penelope Keith and Paul Martin continue on their travels across the country for inspiration, enlisting the help of master craftsmen to transform neglected Avebury Manor into a top National Trust property.