Osborne House, Shell Alcove

We recorded, conserved and restored the Shell Alcove at Queen Victoria’s Osborne House, Isle of Wight.

  • Before restoration works commenced

    Before restoration works commenced

  • Jenna removing flaking paint

    Jenna removing flaking paint

  • Laura retouching the alcove

    Laura retouching the alcove

  • After our team completed the works

    After our team completed the works

Located on the lower terrace at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, the Shell Alcove was designed by Prince Albert and completed in 1853. Over its 160-year history, the alcove had fallen into a state of disrepair. The paint work was severely flaking, parts of the canopy had been lost or inappropriately repaired, and a dolphin support and ceiling rose were missing.  

We were commissioned to record, conserve and restore the alcove. This was achieved by:

  • Cleaning all areas of the alcove including removing the historic fills
  • Repairing and remodelling the two lost elements of the canopy using 3D-scanning techniques, and printing a replica model
  • Where material evidence relating to the ceiling rose had been destroyed in the alcove, ceiling roses within the main house at Osborne that were visually similar to that in the Shell Alcove were scanned
  • Painting the replica elements to create a painted plaster finish
  • Collecting local shells to repair the decorative band
  • Carrying out architectural paint research in order to discover the original paint scheme of the alcove
  • Repainting the canopy in these original colours
  • Scanning the entire alcove before and after conservation to create an accurate and lasting record of the conservation process, and to monitor future change.