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Making Your Mark

A Drawing Found During Conservation Work in the Cumberland Suite

Date: 10 December 2013

Author: Daniel Jackson

During recent conservation work in the Cumberland Suite at Hampton Court Palace, we made an interesting discovery. This drawing (above) was found scratched into a plaster wall that has been covered with wooden panelling for the past 300 years.

Presumably drawn by a bored workman when the wall was built in the 1730s, you can clearly see some charming shoes and the beginnings of a dress. Unfortunately, the rest of the figure has been aggressively scratched out. Whether this was done because the artist made a mistake or because they suddenly realised their supervisor was watching we shall never know.

The project has also uncovered several other pieces of graffiti, including the profile of a man with a large nose and curly hair from the late 19th century and a horse’s head that has been pencilled onto a wall in the 1980s. These findings are a fine example of the human need to “make your mark” and provide a great connection between the people involved in building the palace over the last 500 years; I will have to keep my eyes on our current crop of craftsmen!

The Cumberland Suite at Hampton Court Palace is undergoing a major redecoration and redisplay and will be opening to the public in October 2014.

Daniel Jackson
Curator of Historic Buildings at Hampton Court Palace

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