THE custodians of Castle Howard say the proposed revamp of a principal state room that has remained derelict since being destroyed in a chimney fire 82-years-ago marks "very significant moment" "in the stately home's gradual restoration.

An ambitious proposal to recreate the lavish Cabinet Room as it would have appeared in the early 18th century, including a series of artworks, ornate plasterwork and furniture from the period, has been lodged with Ryedale District Council.

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Blueprints for the room follow painstaking research which will see the Four Seasons tapestries made for it in 1706 return to their original location at the 145-room property near Malton, which attracts more than 250,000 visitors a year.

The three-bay Cabinet Room would have acted an an ante-chamber, forming the first stage in a gradual procession through the property, with each room representing a higher level of social or political status on the part of the visitor.

Its neighbouring rooms were also destroyed in the 1940 fire, as was the floor above. However, the Garden Saloon was restored in 1979, prompted by the filming of TV series Brideshead Revisited and the New Library was revamped immediately afterwards.

The Cabinet Room was part restored in 1988 when floorboards were laid down and drapes hung over the walls to create a temporary exhibition area and improve visitors' access to the rest of the property.

In documents submitted with the planning application, a Castle Howard agent states: "The proposal to restore this derelict interior into a new version of the Tapestry Drawing Room marks a very significant moment in the long and gradual recovery of these interiors following the fire of 1940."

The architectural shell will be returned as closely as possible to its early 18th century appearance. Pre-fire photographs have provided a guide for doorcases, windows, panelling, friezes and cornices.

It is proposed to place much of the early furniture in Castle Howard's collection in the restored room, including a set of Queen Anne chairs and two pietra dura cabinets either side of the fireplace.

None of Castle Howard architect and dramatist Vanbrugh's fireplaces survive in the state rooms, so the stately home's custodians plan to introduce a fireplace based on one of Vanburgh's fireplaces in the Prince of Wales's aprtments at Hampton Court.

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The papers state it is hoped to recreate architectural features in "a manner that avoids the mistake of being slavishly archaeological or feeble pastiche".

Responding to the proposals, a Historic England spokesman said the proposals represent "a welcome step forward on the process of gradual reinstatement of lost interiors of this outstanding building".

He added: "The interventions are well supported by detailed and specialist research and build on thework carried out and principles established on previous reinstatement works in Garden Hall and New Library and the Lake Sitting Room.

"The remade interior will bring back this room to an appearance similar to what it would have originally had until circa 1759, reinstating original decoration and detail and returning the four Vanderbank tapestries to the room they were originally intended for by Vanbrugh.

"We consider that the alterations proposed will on the whole have a positive impact on the special architectural and historic interest of the Grade I listed building."


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