Delight as Lauderdale House opens once more after £2.3m transformation

Celebrating the completion of works at Lauderdale House, from left Mario Gammaldi (site manager) Mar

Celebrating the completion of works at Lauderdale House, from left Mario Gammaldi (site manager) Mark Horn MD of contractors Rooff, Lauderdale House director Katherine Ives, Architect Stanley Haines, and chair of Lauderdale House Nick Peacey, staff and contractors stand outside the new studio block at the rear of the house. Photo: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

After more than a year of building works, Lauderdale House is open and will benefit from a £2.3million project to secure the Highgate arts and education centre for generations

The old workshop was demolished in Dec 2015. Photo: Polly Hancock

The old workshop was demolished in Dec 2015. Photo: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Builders handed the Grade II* House, dating from 1582, back to Chair Nick Peacey on Wednesday.

The sixteenth-century mansion now has a state-of-the-art learning centre to replace the small workshop and a glass-roofed Atrium inspired by the Tudor courtyard.

There are more performances, classes and events to come, as well as a new outreach heritage learning programme for young people.

The programme will reach young people in deprived pockets in and around Highgate, to connect them with their heritage.

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As part of the project, there is now modern and effective lighting and sound proofing, as well as greener new electrical and mechanical services.

Lauderdale House’s café is still closed but is due to open on December 7.

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Historical features, such as Nell Gwynn’s Bath, have also been restored, the only surviving Restoration-period sideboard, or buffet, in its original location.

The sideboard takes its name from Lauderdale House’s most famous resident and the marble features gives it the appearance of a bath.

The House was owned by the Earl of Lauderdale, who was King Charles II’s right-hand man.

King Charles’ mistress, Nell Gwynn, briefly lived there, and legend has it she once dangled her baby out of the window.

Director Katherine Ives is “hugely excited” that the house is finally open in full once again.

She had been dreaming of the project to modernise and preserve the house since she became director in 1998 and her predecessors had been dreaming before her.

She was touched by people donating small and large amounts towards the fundraising project – nearly 500 people donated.

Ms Ives said: “Right up until we closed, the house was full of people of all ages doing all kinds of creative activities. It’s been a long, long journey for lots and lots of people. It’s just absolutely wonderful to be back in the building.

“Lauderdale is like a big open family and our regular visitors have supported us through the build like any good family, so it will be extra special to welcome them back to the transformed building. And we look forward to welcoming lots of new members too.”

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