David Parr House

Restoration & Conservation, Cambridge

The David Parr House is a rare survival of a C19 painted domestic interior.  It was the home of David Parr, an artisan painter from 1886-1927.  The interiors reflect the work that Parr was carrying out for a local firm with important commissions all over Britain. The work is documented in a set of diaries in which David described the palette of materials and the techniques he employed.  The David Parr House Charity purchased the house with private funds, donations and a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to enable the Trustees to embark on a programme of conservation work.

Cowper Griffith Architects were appointed to prepare a scheme of repairs following a Conservation Management Plan by John Maddison Ph.D, FSA. The restoration presented a unique set of issues to resolve. The beautiful and delicate hand painted decorative scheme in the front and rear rooms had been significantly damaged by damp. Our task was to address the causes of the damage including structural issues without further loss to the surviving areas of decoration.

Old black and white photographs showed the front of the house covered in ivy which may have contributed to the retention of moisture, exacerbated by cementitious repointing of the brickwork. After extensive historic and technical research, the repointing in lime mortar, the overhaul of sash windows and joinery, the repair of below ground drainage, repairs to stained glass, and the decoration of the external paintwork in original colours has been completed. Works to the garden included repairing the garden shed and unique fencing arrangements all to Parr’s bespoke and eccentric designs. 

Work to the interiors has involved the careful removal of friable plaster and its replacement with new lime plaster, together with the painstaking repair of joinery, architraves and decorative finishes.  The painted interiors are currently being conserved by Tobit Curteis Associates. 

The house opened its’ doors to visitors in May 2019. Visits/tours can be booked online at davidparrhouse.org

Client: David Parr House CIO

Contractor: F.A. Valiant & Son

Interior Conservation: Tobit Curteis

Photography: Matthew Smith