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£120,000 fundraising drive to conserve Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson house

A three-year restoration project is under way at the property.

The Dining Room at Holmwood where conservation work is taking place (National Trust for Scotland/PA)
The Dining Room at Holmwood where conservation work is taking place (National Trust for Scotland/PA)

A fundraising drive to conserve original decorations found hidden under paintwork in a historic house has been launched by a heritage organisation.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) needs to raise £120,000 to protect and recreate the original interior design found in the Alexander “Greek” Thomson designed villa Holmwood House in Glasgow.

Since NTS took over the property in 1994, conservators have discovered Thomson’s original decorations which were hidden beneath layers of paint and wallpaper applied by previous owners.

A three-year restoration project is now under way to return the house to its original glory so that visitors can see what it would have looked like when it was first built in 1857-8.

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Holmwood House was built in 1857-58 (National Trust for Scotland/PA)

The process sees conservators carefully peel away paint and wallpaper to reveal areas of the original design which can then be recreated across the rest of the room.

Emma Inglis, NTS Curator (Glasgow and West), said the restoration would provide a “visual feast” for visitors.

She said: “Once the conservation has been completed then the house will really have turned a corner in terms of the way we are able to present it to visitors, to being able to showcase Thomson’s work to visitors and being a flagship for Thomson’s heritage.

“It’s impossible not to walk into these spaces and be totally amazed by his approach to design and colour, it’s not something visitors will see anywhere else.

“There is nowhere else that people are able to see the sheer cleverness of the way he worked with all the different motifs and it is a real masterclass in terms of that way of decorating.”

The restoration work is currently in its second year and the funding will help carry it through to the end of the three-year project, extending work throughout the house including into the parlour and up the stairs.

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The house features decorations inspired by Greece (National Trust for Scotland/PA)

NTS said that Thomson’s penchant for Grecian styling and symmetry is found throughout Holmwood, where the “bold opulent decoration echoes the colours seen in ancient Greek temples”.

The dining room at the property features scenes from Homer’s Iliad across 21 panels which cover the four walls of the room.

Experts have already started re-stencilling work to recreate the decoration in the entrance hall and dining room of the house, which is located in the Cathcart area of the city.

Born on April 9 1817 in Balfron, Stirlingshire, Thomson became a prominent architect in Victorian Glasgow where his interest in classical design earned him the sobriquet “Greek” Thomson.

His legacy includes St Vincent Street Church in Glasgow, his home at Moray Place in the Strathbungo area of the city and the Egyptian Halls on Union Street.

He designed Holmwood House for the paper magnate James Couper and his wife.

PA

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