In this exciting project, our experienced restoration team took on the task of both sourcing, restoring and converting Victorian-era lighting to feature in the Holst Victorian House, in Cheltenham.
ABOUT THE HOLST VICTORIAN HOUSE
The Holst Victorian House is the birthplace of famed composer Gustav Holst, and has been rejuvenated and refurbished to become an interactive museum, where visitors can experience the life of a middle class Victorian family, as well as learn more about the life of Gustav Holst. Throughout the impressive Victorian building you will discover artworks donated by the Holst estate and view a piano that was owned by Gustav Holst!
We were approached by Laura Kinnear, curator of the Holst Victorian House, who identified the passion and depth of knowledge that we held for antique restoration. This enabled them to entrust our antique restoration team with the important task of using lighting to transport this beautiful home back to the 1870s.
Finding lighting of the Victorian-era was the main priority and task for our restoration team. Their first job was to source lighting that reflected the exact period and style that would have been found in this home at the time. Once this had been achieved the tricky job was to convert and restore these pieces to their original look, while making them suitable electricity.
SOURCING THE VICTORIAN LIGHTING
The lighting that would be chosen for each room needed to both adhere to the specific aesthetic of the space, while also reflecting an accurate representation of the lighting that could be found in a middle class Victorian-era home. Restorer Margaret had a bunch of ways in which she would source original fittings for the house. This consisted of visiting antique fairs, searching online, and exploring the un restored antique lighting we already held in stock. Our restoration team were able to find multiple un-restored originally made for gas & oil lighting fixtures that would be perfect for the Holst home.
All of the gas lighting was sourced directly from our stock of antique fittings. The rare waterslide rise and fall gasolier, the most decorative of the fittings chosen for this project, dates directly from the mid 1800s – making it the perfect fit for this 19th century home.
Some of the oil lamps that were sourced to be restored came from dealers across the country.
RESTORING & CONVERTING THE VICTORIAN LIGHTING
As we know, during the Victorian era, homes were primarily lit by gas and supported by oil lighting and candles. Therefore, all of the light fixtures would not only need to be restored aesthetically, but would also need to be adapted to allow for electricity. Selected to be included throughout the house were a variety of oil table lamps, which lead restorer, James, cleverly converted to electric – while still keeping the look of an oil-powered light source. To achieve this, James cut a space within the lamp where the wick would have originally sat and used this to house a small and discreet SBC lamp holders. He then wired these using a very simple semi translucent cable, so as not to draw the eye.
Throughout the home, there are also a variety of antique, restored gas ceiling and wall fittings. Restoring these was a slightly simpler task for James, as they would have originally needed a feed of gas from the mains to power, which meant there would be hollow arms and stems to run all of the electric cables through! He left the original taps and switches and fitted B22 lamp holders which, combined with their original glass shades and chimneys, hid the bulbs and made it almost impossible to notice they were lit using electricity! James has said he ‘particularly loved restoring the gasolier installed in the drawing room. The quality was excellent, and the transformation was remarkable.’
THE FINISHED PROJECT
All of the converted fittings, combined with the use of low lumen LED bulbs, really helps to recreate the candle lit atmosphere that home would have originally had. The restored antique lighting provided by Fritz Fryer helps to compliment the incredible restored Victorian-era furniture and furnishings. The Holst Victorian House provides guests the chance to immerse themselves in the life of Gustav Holst, and experience how the house he was born in may have looked and felt in the 1870s!