At the rear of the Heritage Team office in the northern range of Hyde Park Barracks there is a room that was the quarters of the District Court Judge.The room was walled with bookcases that have recently been removed in preparation for a new use.  To our great delight, when we removed the bookcases we discovered several layers of early wallpaper and Linoleum floor coverings. The finishes were kindly analysed and dated by SLM’s very own Curator Michael Lech.

The various wallpapers give us a hint to the different decorative schemes and uses of the room over a period of around 80 years.  The earliest wallpaper we found includes a beautiful frieze and body/fill scheme featuring Chrysanthemums on a pale blue background with gilt highlights dated to the late 1880s, similar to papers found at Rouse Hill.  On top of this is an early 20th century wall and ceiling scheme in an abstract brown palette. The final layer is an embossed frieze. The embossing and the use of classical swirling motifs suggest a late 1940s or early 1950s manufacture date.

The earliest section of Linoleum in the room was found under several other layers of Lino, directly on the floorboards and is an imitation of tiles using colourful geometric patterns. This was typical of the later part of the 19th century as Linoleum was very hard wearing and easy to clean and cheaper than marble and parquetry. Above this is another Linoleum imitating tiles, this time in a beautiful mosaic pattern.

Another very interesting find was what seem to be two sections of the original 1819 timber roof rafters of the north range. These were built over when the second storey was added in 1873.

Following these fascinating finds we have documented the finishes and have decided to clean and consolidate the different sections of wallpaper leaving them exposed and incorporating them in the new colour scheme for the room for all to enjoy.
 

Author

Maria Elena Ruggeri, Heritage Project Officer.

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