OPT Moves back in and the restoration begins (and so does public access!)

OPT moved out of the Painted Room in the early 1970s and gradually public access ceased and the Shakespeare Parade ended.   Twenty years ago, OPT began to watch out, and when the Rooms became vacant in 2012 we stepped in.  After much to-ing and fro-ing we managed to gain access to be able to start thinking about the history, restoration and how we might open them up to the public again. 

We began by reintroducing the Shakespeare Parade in 2013 and sharing the Rooms with as many people as we could at Oxford Open Doors with a record 3,500 visitors in the first year.

In 2018 we were able to secure a lease with the support of the Eyre Estate, who own the building, and heritage consultants, Nick Worlledge Associates became our tenants in the upper rooms above the Painted Rooms providing helpful funding. We are grateful for the support of Historic England, the William Delafield Charitable Trust, Oxford University TORCH, CPRE Oxfordshire Buildings Preservation Trust and the Leche Trust, whose funds have allowed us to find out more, and do the necessary works needed, to keep them and make them available future generations.   

We have been able to hold Symposiums with experts, work with Oxford Archaeology on a Conservation Management Plan, Dr. Oliver Cox,  Dr Kathy Davies on the wall paintings, and Prof Emma Smith on the links with Shakespeare.  Dan Miles and the University have carried out Dendrochronology (carbon-dating of the timbers) and Professor Stephen Harris, of Plant Sciences has helped us on the significance and symbolism of the flowers in the wall decoration. 

In 2020 we completed the work to stabilise and restore the wall paintings, working with Oxford expert, Madeleine Katkov.  This work involved removing the sliding oak panelling which was carefully dismantled and re-erected in a room at the top of the building, and putting UV filters up at the windows!

Regrettably, physical access to the Painted Room remains compromised and is  outside our control.  We do our best to open the Painted Rooms regularly, Coronavirus permitting, and hold regular members tours together with the annual Shakespeare’s birthday and Oxford Open Doors. Click here for more details.