Heritage Treasure of St. Bartholomew's Hospital to be restored … – London Post


This Heritage Treasures Day it has been announced that The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded £4.9m to Barts Heritage for them to embark on their ‘Sharing Historic Barts’ project. The project will enable the historic buildings of St Bartholomew’s Hospital to be restored and rejuvenated.
At the heart of the project is the conservation of a breath-taking heritage treasure – the spectacular Hogarth Stair situated in the Grade I listed North Wing of the hospital.
The walls of the grand staircase are adorned with sweeping canvases painted by William Hogarth that depict two Biblical stories – The Pool of Bethesda and The Good Samaritan – featuring figures approximately seven feet high.
Having been born in nearby Bartholomew Close, which until recent redevelopment had contained many of the medical school buildings, Hogarth was incensed to discover that Italian painter, Jacopo Amigoni, had been approached to provide the artwork for the staircase. Hogarth then offered his services free of charge, and set about creating these unique paintings. Hogarth had never before attempted anything of this scale, and his biblical scenes include sympathetic portraits of people suffering from disease and injury, drawn from the real life.
Hogarth’s paintings perfectly encapsulate the ideals of care and healing on which the Hospital was founded. The characters portrayed in the Pool of Bethesda are thought to be patients from the hospital, many of whose conditions are recognisable to the trained eye, and the painting is still used as an educational tool today, including by Barts anaesthetists as a means to encourage empathy.
Both the Hogarth canvasses have remained in reasonable condition, however, specialist cleaning and conservation are required in order to remedy structural issues caused by the wooden ‘stretcher’ framework behind.
The stair hall itself will undergo extensive work to restore it to its former glory such as repairing and strengthening the timber staircase and conserving the magnificent 18th century chandelier.
The works to the Hogarth Stair will also provide an opportunity to demonstrate the latest conservation techniques, and share new discoveries of the as part of a public programme.
Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Our annual Heritage Treasures Day gives us the chance to celebrate some of the most wonderful heritage across the UK, including the historic buildings of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, and particularly the Hogarth Stair, which is truly a treasure to marvel at. We’re thrilled that our funding will be used to conserve these unique examples of Hogarth’s work and revitalize the stunning stair Hall for more and more people to appreciate and enjoy when visiting the historic buildings.”
Will Palin, CEO of Barts Heritage said: “The Hogarth Stair is a genuine ‘hidden treasure’ and is just one element of our ambitious project combining the much-needed restoration of the one of the most important historic hospital buildings in the UK with a pioneering heritage and health programme. We are thrilled to have secured this transformative grant from the Heritage Fund and look forward to welcoming the public both during restoration works and after the project is complete. We would like to thank National Lottery players for helping to make our vision a reality on the 900th anniversary of St Bartholomew’s Hospital.”
As well as the urgent repairs to the celebrated Hogarth Stair and Great Hall of the hospital, the project will provide a public programme with heritage and wellbeing at their core. The programme will include cultural and educational activities such as therapeutic artmaking courses responding to onsite art and architecture, sensory heritage walking tours and mindfulness activities.
There will also be a chance for a new generation to develop their skills within conservation work through placements, apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities.

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