Holland Park Kensington – Entrance Gate Restoration

All that glitters is actually gold.

We have just re-installed the lovely gates to the Earls Court entrance to Holland Park in Kensington. If you are passing them on a sunny day please have a pair of sunglasses handy because they have been gilded with 780 sheets of 23½ ct gold.

The gates were removed from site and restored in our workshop. Our restoration work revealed different styles of craftsmanship, denoting the different periods of the evolution of the gateway. The gates were like a giant jigsaw to put back together, we had several buckets of retrieved items — leaves & scrolls — which were removed from site for safe keeping in 1999. We used our condition survey images from 1999 and historical records to restore the gates as closely as possible to when they were original installed.

The following text has been taken from the condition report carried out in 1999 by Chris Topp and in the main has been proven to be pretty much what was discovered when all the leaves were removed prior to restoration.

Written by Chris Topp 1999……. On first sight the ironwork appears to be contemporary with the installation, which in turn has the style of the 20th century, perhaps dating from between the wars. The leafwork, although to a good standard is mainly of copper and of a design which would not immediately be recognised as being of ancient work, the railings are undoubtedly modern work, being of clean and simple design, while their leafwork matches that of the gates. The condition of the whole is such that one would assume a recent date.

The true story, however is not so simple. A close examination of the gates themselves, reveals certain clues. Firstly, the iron sections from which the gates have been made, appear to be forged, rather than rolled bars. This is a characteristic of ironwork from prior to the 19th century. Secondly, the construction of the gates, in the way of the panels adjacent to the hinges, indicates that the gates have been extended. Closer examination reveals indeed that the old hinge journals probably exist, but have been cleverly adapted, and incorporated into a new scheme. In general the leafwork is of copper, unusual in ancient work, but iron leaves also are present, not in large numbers and in poor condition, but decidedly different in execution to the leaves of copper.

The arrangement of the design of the gate panel is 18th century French, and I would propose that this is in fact what they are. A pair of fine French gates, acquired in poor condition, maybe in the early nineteenth century and extended. Many of the copper leaves date from this time. In the early 20th century the gates were adapted to suit the current arrangement, and equipped with the overthrow and railings to match, for their present position. The workmanship is good, but I feel that licence has been taken with the design of the replacement copper leaves.

I hope that our restoration has preserved all of the evidence, while equipping this beautiful ironwork to weather the next century.