Linden Place chandelier undergoing major restoration

Cleaning and rewiring of chandelier, said to be from Buckingham Palace, is being done for first time in generations

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 2/20/20

Ever taken on a project where one thing leads to another and the next thing you know, you’ve taken on more than you imagined?

That’s not unlike what has happened at Linden Place …

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Linden Place chandelier undergoing major restoration

Cleaning and rewiring of chandelier, said to be from Buckingham Palace, is being done for first time in generations

Posted

Ever taken on a project where one thing leads to another and the next thing you know, you’ve taken on more than you imagined?

That’s not unlike what has happened at Linden Place — a long-anticipated electrical upgrade from antiquated knob-and-tube wiring has turned into a thorough restoration of a historic chandelier that might have once belonged to Queen Victoria.

When Susan Battle, executive director of Linden Place, realized the 1810 mansion’s rewiring would require the temporary relocation of the iconic dining room chandelier, it only made sense to take this opportunity to clean the crystals.

By itself, that is a labor-intensive job. Caretaker Mark Baker built an elaborate wooden framework to hold the chandelier away from the area where the electricians have been doing their thing. A tagging system has ensured that each crystal removed for cleaning was logged and marked so all will be returned to their proper place after cleaning, a process being undertaken by a team of Linden Place volunteers.

But then it became apparent that the chandelier itself would require the rewiring of the thin, ungrounded, bead-enrobed filaments that carry electricity to the sconces that, back in the day, were candlelit.

Linden Place staff never knew much about the wiring in the chandelier. “We just knew that if you touched it the wrong way you would get a little jolt,” said Ms. Battle.

“The electricians think it was wired in Europe,” she continued. “That gives some clue as to how long ago the work was likely done.

“Colonel Colt and his wife Dot would go to Europe often for ‘medicinal baths.’ The story is, he found this at auction, and that it had come from Buckingham Palace. He bought it, and had it crated and shipped back to Bristol.”

While there is no actual documentation that the chandelier came from Buckingham Palace, the size, style, and timing of the acquisition suggests it might be one of a set of about a dozen or so that were retired from a grand hall in Queen Victoria’s palace around the same time that Colonel Colt made his purchase.

“It’s funny to think of this as one of many,” said Ms. Battle. “We always think of this chandelier as being ’the one’.”

The operation is complicated — so much so that Ms. Battle is convinced it has not been done in a very long time — though her institutional memory only goes back a couple of decades. “It hasn’t been cleaned in at least 20 years,” she said. “We were always so afraid to touch it.” But pressed for details, Ms. Battle admits it could have been much longer in between cleanings — if ever. “God knows when this was last done,” she said. “There’s probably coal soot on it.”

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