FULHAM PALACE

Grade 1   restoration & alteration

Fulham Palace is situated on the north bank of the River Thames just to the west of Putney Bridge. The building is Listed Grade I and the site is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The Palace was occupied by the Bishops of London for 1300 years until it was leased by Hammersmith Council in 1973. The building incorporates many periods of construction, with major elements of Tudor and Georgian work. There is a fine late-mediaeval roof structure above the Great Hall.

 

At the inception of the project, the Palace had only been in partial use for the previous thirty years, with large areas of the upper floors unoccupied. The major rooms, although in regular public use, were dilapidated and had a rather ‘municipal’ appearance. Bishop Sherlock’s Room, an important formal room of 1750 had been very badly damaged by previous uses, latterly as a computer room, leaving the magnificent ceiling suspended above bare brick walls and an earth floor.

 

A key requirement of the project was to create a stable long-term income to support future maintenance. This was achieved through the restoration and conversion of the unused former bedrooms on the upper floor levels around the East Courtyard to create suites of lettable offices. A new fire escape stair was inserted in a much-altered well on the south side of the building. Externally, the roofs were refinished with new Welsh slate and clay tiles. Localised repair and repointing of brickwork and stonework were also carried out.

 

The centrepiece of the project was undoubtedly the work restoration of Bishop Sherlock’s Room, which encompassed a wide range of traditional materials and crafts. The damaged and missing areas of the elaborate ceiling were carefully remodelled and repaired and the removal of the heavy build-up of paint enabled the fine detail of the ceiling to be appreciated for the first time in many years. The walls were replastered and new cast plaster panel mouldings were installed. The carved timber work of the door cases, coat of arms and fire surround was reinstated.

 

Since the re-opening of the building, public use has increased dramatically both during the daytime and in the evenings. The Palace now has a successful café and is a thriving venue for exhibitions and events. The project has transformed the Palace from a little-used and rather dilapidated building into a popular local destination.

 

The project won the 2008 RICS London Region Award for Building Conservation.