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Following Lord Bearsted’s purchase of Upton House in 1927, he began a programme of alterations, including the construction of a squash court. In 1936 Lord Bearsted decided it was time to convert his squash court into a Picture Gallery, in which to exhibit his ever growing art collection. Work began to convert the squash court and the installation of a large glass roof provided excellent viewing conditions for the collection. A new squash court was then built at the east end of the house. This space is now used for exhibitions.

Building the Picture Gallery in the 1930s

Building the Picture Gallery in the 1930s

The Picture Gallery roof light had been in need of refurbishment for some time, and in 2013 we were ready to replace it! The new roof light uses a special type of glass that eliminates ultraviolet light which is harmful to paintings. Now that it is finished, it looks much brighter in the Gallery, and our volunteers will be pleased that no longer will they be able to see leaves and moss when they are inside the Picture Gallery!

The old roof light

The old roof light

Whilst the Picture Gallery and Picture Gallery Passage were closed we exhibited highlights of the collection in the Squash Court Gallery. The exhibition was called “New Light on Old Masters”. It was great to see the paintings in a different space, but we are really looking forward to them going back into the Picture Gallery where Lord Bearsted intended them to be viewed.

The exhibition in the Squash Court Gallery

The exhibition in the Squash Court Gallery

As the main season is drawing closer (6 day opening commences on Saturday 15 February) we are busy tidying up from the building works, and planning on the Picture Gallery re-launch. It will be great to celebrate the re-opening of the Picture Gallery again, home to some of the most important pieces in Lord Bearsted’s collection.

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