Late Summer 2012 Burrows Lea Forge Ltd. was invited to submit a tender for the Conservation and Restoration of the ‘Tijou’ Gates at Petworth House West Sussex by The National Trust.
The Petworth House Gates are in the Baroque style and are a beautiful Victorian copy of a Jean Tijou (working1689-1712) design. To my knowledge Tijou used this design three times at Hampton Court. Facing the amazingly long, straight Chestnut Avenue of Bushy Park and between Sir Christoper Wren’s monumental Lion Gate Stone Piers is Jean Tijou’s Lion Gate(s), similar in size to the Petworth Gates, at the opposite end of the Hampton Court site are the Fountain Garden Gates, two smaller, separate entrances opening out into to Home Park. The Petworth Gates are unique though, their design moves away from Tijou’s design, losing the pedestrian gates either side of the main gates, replacing them with full height palisade railing. This offers a practical ‘country’ design of the Petworth Park setting.
The execution of the Petworth version is typically Victorian, solid, sensible and top quality. It has to be noted that the Victorians bring their own interpretation Baroque decoration to Heritage English Ironwork. The Repousse, Acanthus Leaf and Waterleaf work is without doubt as voluminous and ‘light’ as Tijou’s work, but seems to have a simplified perfection that can only be attributed to a Victorian artisan.
Reading back from my general survey report – ‘The ‘Tijou’ Gates compromise of a baroque, overthrown façade, utilising featured scrollwork of a medium to heavy weight type, water and acanthus leaves(face, cup and husk). Mortise and tenon joint construction throughout with copious screwed, collared and riveted components such as scrolls, rosettes and other contemporary decoration. Comprising a pair of entrance gates, 4 x pilasters (two sizes), overthrow (removed), palisade panel x 2 and quadrant panels x 2. All decorative embellishment is featured twofold (repeated on opposing face) throughout the façade.’
The Wrought Ironwork façade is badly corroded with many elements in a state of terminal decline, a lot of the Acanthus decoration on the gates and the entire overthrow was dismantled in past years and placed in secure, dry storage in a effort to preserve some of the structure. However the majority of the structural decoration could not be removed and has deteriorated greatly. The main structure due to its great proportions is in reasonable condition.
Burrows Lea Forge Ltd. was awarded the tender in October 2012 and here’s how the next part of the ‘Tijou’ Gates’ story goes……..