One of a set of torcheres bearing candelabra in the Great Room at Saltram. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel
The current issue of ABC Bulletin features an article by Sue Baumbach about the conservation of a group of four torcheres at Saltram, in Devon. I have just discovered that we have some images of them being worked on, so I thought I would show those here.
The torcheres being treated at Tankerdale. ©NTPL/John Hammond
As Sue relates, the candelabra were ordered by Theresa Parker from Boulton & Fothergill in 1771 for the Great Room at Saltram. They have central urns made of the rare mineral Blue John, or Derbyshire fluorspar.
Working on one of the ram's heads. ©NTPL/John Hammond
There is no record of the purchase of the tocheres. They may have been designed by Robert Adam together with the rest of the decoration of the room.
However, it is also possible that they were the quartet of similar-sounding torcheres that were sold in the house sale of a property in Portman Square in London in 1778. These were bought by a Mr Sturt, whose name also appears in the Saltram accounts at around that time, but the evidence is not conclusive.
Injecting the woodworm holes. ©NTPL/John Hammond
The torcheres had become unstable due to previous pest infestations, and they have recently been treated at the workshop of Tankerdale Ltd.
Re-gilding the base of one of the torcheres. ©NTPL/John Hammond
Analysis of the gilding undertaken by Catherine Hassall showed that the torcheres had only been re-gilded once before, in the late nineteenth century.
The 1897 inscription on the inside of one of the torcheres, with the contemporary business directory that lists the Harris firm. ©NTPL/John Hammond
This probably relates to the inscription found within one of the torcheres, which reads ‘Bellamy, Apprentice, H & Sons, April 1897. Repard [sic] by James Street, April 1897. From Harris & Sons, George Street.’
A contemporary business directory records that Harris & Sons was a Plymouth company of ‘art decorators, house painters, gilders, picture dealers, artists’ colourmen and stationers’.
One of the torcheres with its candelabra, in a corner of the Great Room. Since this photograph was taken, the torcheres have been moved to more prominent positions in the room, in line with Robert Adam's original arrangement. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel
The 1897 re-gilding was probably part of the redecorations carried out by Albert Edmond Parker, 3rd Earl of Morley, who had married an heiress and moved back to Saltram after the house had been let to tenants for a number of years.