THE CEILING AT 20a WEST STREET, FARNHAM
The ornately plastered ceiling at 20a West Street, Farnham, is a hidden treasure dating back to the mid-17th century. It was covered up for an unknown number of years until in 1926 it was re-discovered during building work.
In 1926, the famous Farnham architect Harold Falkner was installing a new shopfront in the building. To everyone’s amazement, under several coats of whitewash, this beautiful ceiling was found.
It was not fully revealed however until 1986 after a pipe burst in the room above. The water from the burst pipe loosened the layers of paint, and a local builder called Barry Eade painstakingly scraped the whole ceiling clean, bringing to light many previously hidden details.
The ceiling is unique. It was made by a Farnham plasterer in the mid-17th century for the Earl of Shaftesbury, who had commissioned a ceiling for his house in Wimborne in Dorset. The Earl wanted to see an example of what his ceiling would look like, so the plasterer made a half-size version for his own room at 20a West Street. The ceiling is made of solid plaster 8” thick, laid on horsehair, and weighs approximately two tons.
Information provided by the Farnham Public Art Trust, 2013