Hadleigh: Jim Lawrence helps with The Manor Reborn restoration

SUFFOLK-based iron works company Jim Lawrence was among the firms invited to help out with the restroration of historic Avebury Manor in Wiltshire, featured in the BBC1 series The Manor Reborn.

The programme, fronted by To the Manor Born actress Penepope Keith and TV antiques expert Paul Martin, involved a refit the 500-year-old National Trust property in traditional style but with fittings and furniture visitors can use rather than just look at.

Jim Lawrence, based in Hadleigh, was approached to construct rails, fixings, hooks and rings for the Tudor-style curtains and pelmet of a four-poster bed, a centre-piece of the restoration.

Due to the need for the bed to be “‘jumpable on” and affordable, rather than simply putting in a priceless original Tudor bed , the BBC started by buying a four poster bed at auction and then drafted in a team of experts , from historians to master weavers to improve and rebuild it, making it fit for an important country residence.

Ian Dale, the expert in charge of the bed reconstruction, chose Jim Lawrence because of the firm’s highly skilled team of craftsmen who he knew would be able to recreate the fittings as authentically as possible.

Mr Dale said: “Though the original curtain rings would have been pretty crude, just piece of iron twisted in to a C-shape at end of an anvil, the very process that Jim Lawrence still use now of coating their finished ironworks in a beeswax finish was definitely a skill employed in the Tudor forges.”

It wasn’t all complete reconstruction, however. Ian asked the team at Jim Lawrence to use tubular steel as the weight of the twill worsted Say cloth that surrounded the bed was so great that solid steel would have been too heavy to use.

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Company founder Jim Lawrence said: “It’s just a real thrill to be part of such an exciting restoration project.”