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2023 Bursary Recipient: Justyna Medon

The Merryl Huxtable Bursary grant supports my research and conservation of wallpapers recovered from Penllyn Castle in South Wales.

This late 18th century house was built by Miss Emilia Gwinnet of Cottrell between 1789 and 1804 after she inherited the castle from her dear friend Lady Louisa Barbara Vernon of Penllyn in 1786. The main building is attached to, and incorporates the remains of, the 11th-12th century medieval castle which was built on a commanding position overlooking the Thaw and Ewenny valleys. The Regency house was further altered in the Victorian period, but a more elaborate scheme for rebuilding designed by neoclassical architects James and Samuel Wyatt did not go ahead.

Fragments of wallpaper found at Penllyn Castle. Photo by the author

In my initial research I am hoping to date the collection of wallpapers that I successfully recovered from five rooms in Penllyn Castle just before its current owners started renovations. During my visits to the castle in 2022, I discovered several wallpaper panels and smaller fragments, colourful representations of what was once an extraordinary interior decoration scheme. The wallpapers recovered from the castle comprise 19th and early 20th-century French and English papers, including mid-19th century wall panels hand-painted in gouache in the manner of Zuber or Dufour featuring maidens, foliate scrolls, tassels and shells. The exceptional wallpaper discoveries have been safely stored with the permission of the owners.

Recreating the chintz wallpaper. Photo by the author

I have now progressed with the condition assessment and advised on appropriate conservation treatments. I am currently working towards recreating the chintz wallpaper design and in the coming months am hoping to screen-print the papers.

Justyna Medon

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