If you are a regular visitor to Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, you will notice that the Dining Parlour has been redecorated in a vibrant shade of green.
The leaf-pattern is a replica of the wallpaper piece that was found in the top cupboard of the Dining Parlour earlier in the year. This photograph will remind you of what the dining parlour looked like before it was redecorated.
The original wallpaper fragment
The original piece of fragment has a green leaf pattern with a border along the top. It was popular in the 19th Century to decorate homes and clothing with leaves and nature, to bring the outside into the inside.
When the wallpaper piece is turned over, you can see a partial stamp and this has helped to date the piece. Wallpaper was heavily taxed in England from around 1712 to 1836, and it is likely that the wallpaper was made during this time period.
Jane was living in the house at that time, as she lived in Chawton between 1809 until her death in 1817. We like to think that this is the wallpaper that Jane gazed at whilst writing her wonderful novels at her desk situated under the window.
Creating a historic reproduction
Once the wallpaper and border had been tested and cleaned, it was shown to be much brighter and underneath the border was a bright green leaf pattern. A specialist at Hamilton Weston painstakingly redrew and recoloured the design by hand to create a matching sample suitable for printing.
The printing itself was done by hand with a block, which would have been the method used in the Regency period. The border was on a separate roll, and was used to fill the gap between the top of the wallpaper and the uneven ceiling.
The redecorating event
I went along to see the repapering of the room when the newly named Chawton Leaf wallpaper and its Vine Leaf Flock border were being hung. The pattern also matches the Wedgewood dining set that Jane used which is usually laid out on the dining table.
Making an entrance!
As you can see – the finished room is much brighter and breathtaking!
A special thank you
As always, support is needed to take on these wonderful projects and in this case we are grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund Collecting Cultures scheme and the Jane Austen Society North America (Washington DC, Metropolitan Region).