Rob Chester is perhaps best known for his alter ego, the butler at Sewerby Hall. Who better then to describe the recent refurbishment of this grand Georgian house taking it back to what it looked like in its Edwardian heyday.
Rob gave a brief history of the house. First built in 1714 as a villa and extended in the first half of the 1800’s, it was the family residence of the Lloyd Greame family for over 200 years. The house and gardens were bought by the Bridlington Corporation in 1934.
After some work including conversion of part of the house to a cafe it was officially opened to the public by aviatrix Amy Johnson in 1936. From the 1950’s it was also used as a museum and art gallery, and some of the rooms could be booked for meetings and other events.
Rob showed a series of professionally photographs taken in 1910, dated exactly by some unique furniture fabrics. In 2011 the council decided to apply for a lottery grant to refurbish the house back to this date.
The house was closed for this major work in 2013 and was reopened again in less than 12 months. Everything that could be moved was taken out and stored. Fixed features were protected by being boxed over. This included the magnificent staircase and fireplaces.
The strip out revealed some interesting things. Rob showed the service bell cables found behind a false wall, bits of wallpaper from the 1830 to 1880 period, and cracked beams that required reinforcing.
Ingress of water over the years had damaged some ceiling plaster and some windows were rotting. Rob showed pictures of the damage and repairs, which included new window shutters designed to a high security standard.
Every effort has been made to faithfully recreate the house as shown in the 1910 photographs. Rob took us on a tour of the main rooms and talked about the work done, the fabrics, colour schemes, and particularly the furniture. More than 50 pieces on display come from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
It was clear to us that one of Rob’s favourite rooms was the working kitchen with its cast iron range. This is now used by groups of all ages. Rob was keen to praise the efforts of the volunteers who are essential to the success of the refurbished hall and its activities today.
The vote of thanks was given by Bro Frederick Stephens for Rob’s enthralling tour of the house in restoration with some excellent photographs.