Rare mid-19th century wall painting found at Bexleyheath National Trust property Red House

Red House conservation cleaner Karan King admires the image of Noah.

Red House conservation cleaner Karan King admires the image of Noah.

First published in Bexley
Last updated
News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

A RARE mid-nineteenth century wall painting has been uncovered at a Bexleyheath National Trust house.

Conservationists at Red House worked for three weeks in January using painstaking techniques to reveal five biblical figures and written passages from the Pre-Raphaelite piece.

The 8ft wide by 5ft high painting previously hidden behind a wardrobe features ornate script which was all but illegible until social media fans of the NT property were able to help.

One passage was identified as being from the story of Jacob’s ladder in the book of Genesis within an hour of images being posted on Facebook.

The artwork covers a large patch of one wall in the bedroom of the house’s 1860s occupant: textile designer and well known Bexley figure William Morris.

It is thought to have been done by Lizzie Siddal, wife of the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, sometime between 1860 and her death from laudanum poisoning in 1862.

House and gardens manager James Breslin says visitors to the attraction when it reopens again this week can expect a full artwork where there was once only a vague female figure visible from behind a cupboard.

He said: "It’s unbelievably exciting.

"You always hope when you work in a property like this there are secrets to uncover and to be working here when such a discovery has been made is an extraordinary privilege.

"It’s a painting of international significance and it’s pretty rare to discover a Pre-Raphaelite piece on your wall."

The Biblical figures in the painting – Adam, Eve, Noah, Rachel and Jacob – have been uncovered using delicate methods of physical abrasion to remove the wallpaper.

The full process will be complete when outside specialist art conservationists return in June and July.

To celebrate the discovery of the figures during half term opening week starting February 20, children who share their names are welcome free of charge with ID.

From then on Red House in Red House Lane will be open Wednesday to Sunday every week until December.

Contact James Breslin on 020 830 36359 or e-mail james.breslin@nationaltrust.org.uk

Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/red-house/ or like Red House on Facebook.

Comments (1)

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12:12pm Thu 14 Feb 13

the wall says...

I know a good plasterer if you want that wall skimmed over.
I know a good plasterer if you want that wall skimmed over. the wall
  • Score: 0

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