A window of opportunity at Hampton Court Palace

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    Focus SB, played a part in preserving the Baroque interior of the Queen’s State Apartments at Hampton Court Palace.

    When the Hampton Court Beauties exhibition ended in December, Harry Brimmel, maintenance manager at Hampton Court Palace, saw a rare window of opportunity to undertake some much needed re-wiring in the Queens State Apartments.On the surface, this rewiring job was simple: replace the old filament lights with LED’s, redundant wiring with new, and fit new light switches and electrical face plates. However, it took four months to complete, while usually a job such as this would take half that time.

    “You simply cannot drill through walls here,” Harry explained. The historical significance of Hampton Court Palace meant the refurbishment had to be completed with minimal to no impact on the interior. If there were any changes to the external face, then these had to match the rest of the interior and go unnoticed.

    Part of the characteristic of this job was to work around the palace’s grand interior and infrastructure. When preserving a historical treasure, time is not of the essence, but rather patience. So time was taken to thread cable from one room to the next by going up three stories and down again so not to make any fresh insertions into the walls. Pre-existing pathways were followed from lamp to socket to switch.

    The electrical plates, the face of the re-wiring, were all made bespoke, in order to match the old, by Focus SB. The plates had to be approved by English Heritage. So, at first, a photograph of a Focus SB made plate was sent to them, and then a member of staff visited Hampton Court to view and give the go-ahead before they were installed. This planning process took around six weeks and Focus SB had to be prepared to make the alterations.

    Harry commented: “The amount of work that went into this simple job is incredible. Focus SB was good to us; they were patient and empathetic. This was a very particular job and they never promised more than they could deliver.”

    Once the electrical plates received approval they were placed into pre-existing holes in the skirting board. The finishes and design varied, for the Queen’s bedroom and drawing room, a bronze finished plate was used. For the Queen’s Court, sockets with primed flip lids were used. Once fitted, these were painted the same colour of the room and affectively hidden from view.

    The Queen’s State apartments were built later than the Tudor Palace, which was constructed while Henry VIII reigned in the sixteenth century. Over a century later, Queen Mary attempted to rebuild Hampton Court Palace in a Baroque style and communicated opulence, power and Catholicism through the flamboyant interiors.

    Continued on page two…

    Daniel Fountain / 14.03.2013

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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