Colour in Historic Homes day at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum


- Credit: Archant

Explore the domestic interior of historic homes: wall paintings, materials and furniture in a special day of fascinating demonstrations and talks including World Monuments Fund UK CEO and television presenter, Jonathan Foyle who will speak on Henry VII’s recently discovered marriage bed in which Henry VIII may have been conceived.

The Colour in Historic Homes day at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum will appeal to anyone who is curious about home furnishings, whether historically both low or high status, or to simply draw inspiration from the past for a modern day application. The speaker’s talks are illustrated by focussing on various aspects at the Museum.

A talk on ‘unweaving the rainbow’ will set the context and start the day providing an understanding of what colour is and how we perceive it. From there the programme moves to the sixteenth century and Catherine Richardson, of the University of Kent, will discuss the colourings of homes with ‘a fringe of yellow and blue silks & venis gold’.

Evidence from portraits, and the fascinating glimpses into everyday life they offer, will precede the lunch break, when ample time has been allowed for everyone to explore the Museum and enjoy the demonstrations throughout the site.

King Henry VII’s bed is an extremely important piece of historic furniture. It retains some traces of 15th century paint and the iconography helps to help place it within the royal context of Westminster Palace and this will be explained in detail by Jonathan Foyle. In addition, architect and specialist in historic colour Dr Ian Bristow, will explore early modern interiors and their décor in ‘less than grand’ Georgian and Victorian homes.

Diana Rowsell, Head of Learning, comments: “The chance to glimpse into a home is of interest to so many of us, and the range of speakers on this day will enable us to do that for past centuries. Dull and brown these homes certainly weren’t and it is interesting to trace the fashions at different levels of society.”

There is the chance during the day to see our spectacular new wall hanging in Bayleaf Farmhouse and discuss it with both the artist who made it, Melissa White, and our Museum historian, Danae Tankard.

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We will also be stewarding the room from Upper Reigate, in the market square area, so visitors can enjoy the wall paintings there.

Other demonstrations available include:



-Natural dyeing

-Textile crafts


The Museum is open from 10.30am – 6.00pm. Attendance at the talks must be pre-booked (by contacting our adult learning team on 01243 811464 or emailing and costs £40 for the day including entry. The lakeside café will be open, plus there are indoor seating and outdoor picnic areas. Dogs on short leads are welcome and there is ample free parking.

For a full programme of the day please see: