History and Background
During the 1820's, a number of large Regency houses were constructed In Sidmouth, Devon. These well endowed family homes faced south towards the sea but were set well back from it. The fine building, now known as SIDHOLME, was amongst these. Originally called Richmond Lodge, it was built in 1826 and subsequently occupied by the 6th EARL of Buckinghamshire with his second wife and growing family. A splendid example of regency grandeur; it has a large music room which was attached, as an addition, in about 1848.
English Heritage list SIDHOLME with its Music Room as 'Grade 2 Star'. Within the listing, details of the Music Room and its organ and chandeliers are noted as being fine examples of historical importance. The house is also listed in Simon Jenkins book 'England's Best 1000 Houses. Over many years, the organ and all 7 chandeliers have fallen into disrepair.
In 2013, a group of Sidmothian volunteers came together as the 'Sidholme Organ Friends Association'. Within 2 years, they raised £20,000 pounds and the splendid 1855 Gray and Davison Organ, originally ordered by the 6th Earl of Buckinghamshire, was restored to its original specification. This work was entrusted to Michael Farley, Organ Builder of Colyton Raleigh in Devon in whose care it still remains. A specialist artist, Alison Henham of Ottery St. Mary, repainted its pipes in lapis lazuli blue to reflect their importance within this wonderful, historic room. Additionally, internal lighting and see-through panels were installed to allow the instrument to be used for educational purposes.
Following this successful venture, 'The Friends' reformed in 2015 as the 'Friends of Sidholme Music Room' who now number about 250 members. With a revised committee, they have raised the necessary funds to send the largest chandelier away for restoration, arranged the purchase of a new Yamaha piano to replace the rather tired Bechstein piano and purchased a bespoke piano duet stool. Now they have turned to further fundraising for the current music room project.
The Current Project - The Chandeliers
In the early eighteen fifties, seven Osler type glass chandeliers were installed. All are suspended from the lofty music room ceiling and originally were gas fuelled. They are now in urgent need of repair and can no longer light this magnificent room properly. To regain the original overhead lighting brilliance and regain the true ambience of this wonderful room is the current objective of the Friends of Sidholme Music Room.
Work on the 7 chandeliers is planned in 3 phases.
The 1st phase, now completed, was to restore the central and MAIN CHANDELIER.
Wilkinson plc. who hold the Royal Warrant for chandeliers carried out this work in their specialist Kent workshops. They have an excellent internet site and you can see more at http://wilkinson-plc.com/ .
The MAIN CHANDELIER is pictured here as it now is after it's complete restoration.
The 2nd and 3rd phases will be to restore the remaining 6 chandeliers in 2 batches and fundraising for that element of restoration is now in hand.