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Breathing new life into historic Eastbury Manor

PUBLISHED: 14:03 15 May 2008 | UPDATED: 09:10 11 August 2010

Eastbury Manor House

Eastbury Manor House

Eastbury Manor House is due a £1.2million makeover but how will the money be spent and the heritage preserved? The grade 1 listed mansion situated in Barking was built by, Clement Sysley, a rich Essex merchant during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It has a

Eastbury Manor House is due a £1.2million makeover but how will the money be spent and the heritage preserved?

The grade 1 listed mansion situated in Barking was built by, Clement Sysley, a rich Essex merchant during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

It has an unusual history, originally the house was owned by a wealthy class of people but then poorer farmers took up tenancy and the place fell into decay.

But in 1918 it was rescued by the National Trust who applied for grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund in order to restore Eastbury Manor to its former glory.

Regeneration will take place throughout this year, the work began last month and will continue into the New Year.

The plans include the enclosure of the East Turret stairs which will be restored using timber and glass; the brick turret fell down 180 years ago.

At the moment an external spiral staircase exists but restoration plans would mean visitors and users could walk around inside more of the building.

It would allow them to see and explore the rooms upstairs, such as the famous Painted Chamber, as the Tudor builders intended many centuries ago.

In 1572 when the house was built this staircase was made of a very fine chestnut and would have carried the family's most important guests up to the private parlour.

Most guests would have been entertained in the main hall on the ground floor but special and family guests went to the exquisite parlour directly above the main hall covered in Fresco paintings.

The eastern attic which the National Trust intends to use as a permanent history exhibition room would once have been covered in beautiful Fresco paintings too.

This huge 70ft long room was used for walking when the weather did not permit going outside, ladies especially used this room for a little exercise and a chance of some conversation with their friends.

On the west side of the house it is thought that the attics were used as quarters for servants who would have risen every day at dawn to light the fires.

Towards the back of the house was the kitchen and buttery, which was a cellar that contained the ales and wines.

A temporary exhibition space will be opened on the first floor which would once have been the bedrooms and some would have doubled as living rooms.

The exhibits will educate people on how the house was used over the centuries and follow the lives of those who lived there.

And attempts to interpret what individual rooms looked like and how they would have been furnished through the use of texts, plans, drawings and photographs.

Funding will also help improve access to the Manor House, ramps will replace steps where it is appropriate and in keeping with the cultural heritage of the mansion.

Refurbishment and repair of the windows and outside of the building, with an upgrade of the heating system is also planned for this year.

Of course the heating system used in Tudor times would have been quite different, great fires were lit in all the room to keep the residents warm in the winter.

There are 13 fireplaces in Eastbury Manor but 16 chimneys on the roof; it is thought that these were built to achieve a symmetrical effect.

The house would not have had any electricity or gas and no means of communication; there was never even a bell system installed with which to call for servants.

The entire mansion was lit by roaring fires and candlelight; the ladies and gentlemen of the house would have used bees wax candles which would give off a wonderful scent of honey.

Servants on the other hand were given tallow candles which were made from animal fat and did not have such a pleasing aroma.

Eastbury Manor House guided tours are available for visitors, learn about the inhabitants of this fascinating and historical mansion - thought to be where the Gunpowder Plot was hatched!


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