By Sam Wilkinson | 14th December 2017
Although we are specialists in restoring antique English chandeliers, it is rare that we get the opportunity to work on such exquisite examples as we did in the Summer of 2017. We were contacted by the Reverend and Dean of Cambridge’s Emmanuel College Jeremy Caddick following some unfortunate damage to their historic chandelier that was suspended in the Chapel.
When David Wilkinson examined the chandelier at the Chapel it was a relief to discover the arm that had been broken was a 20th century replacement not an original 1730’s piece. In total there were 4 reproduction arms (not counting the damaged one), these were identifiable as they were not as well made as the originals and were slightly shorter in length. Also they each had new square brass pots which led us to conclude that the arms were probably lost, not broken before they were replaced.
To restore the chandelier, we proposed to hand blow a new glass candle arm and drip pan in “Georgian grey tinted” lead crystal, we would remove the broken glass pieces from the square brass receiver plate mount and plaster the new arm into the original mount making sure the new arm would sit level and the candle nozzle pointed straight upwards. Due to the significant age of the chandelier we found that the plaster holding the heavy arms into the metal mounts was deteriorating and could in future result in the arms coming loose and falling, the solution was to remove the mounts from all of the arms and reset them in fresh plaster, which should give at least 50 years peace of mind.
It was known by the Dean and also document in Martin Mortimer’s book, The English Chandelier, that the chandelier was a given to the college in 1732 by Edward Hulse MD as a gift, but it was not known whether the chandelier was manufacturer at this date, however when dismantling the chandelier at our workshop, we found a folded newspaper sheet dated 11th September 1731 inside one of the receiver bowls that had been used for packing out the spacing between the pieces.
Although this is not confirmation of the date of manufacture, it certainly would support the information that is already known about the date of gifting and it’s design is consistent with other known chandeliers manufactured during this period (namely those found at Chatsworth – Derbyshire, formerly Thornham Hall – Suffolk and St Edmund’s Church – Norfolk). What makes the Emmanuel chandelier so unique however is that it is the only known chandelier from the period that has arms on 2 tiers of graded sizes, just another reason we were so delighted to be asked to work on this wonderful chandelier.