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The Bowhill Smoking room: reimagining a Victorian space

Currently in its final stages, this project has combined research, collaboration, and new textile designs to create a space that captures the spirit of the original room, while resisting pastiche and sentimentality.


The 2016 iteration of the smoking room has evolved from research undertaken at The University of Glasgow into the dining, billiard, and smoking rooms at Bowhill. Duke Richard was keen to bring the room back into public circulation, as it was clear that a smoking room was essential to any respectable late Victorian country house.


The inventory of 1915, recorded on the death of the 8th duke, Henry Walter, has been used as the basis for the selection of furniture and pictures included in the 2016 refurbishment of the room, as well as providing some guidance for the new furnishing fabrics. Delving into the archive at Clapperton’s photography studio, Selkirk, revealed some black and white photographs of the room from the 1930s, which helped to imagine the original space.


It was decided, rather than to reconstruct the fabrics, which could result in an historical pastiche, that it would be more interesting to commission new designs from Timorous Beasties, a Glasgow-based design practice that specializes in creating original furnishing fabrics.  Paul Simmons is responsible for the designs of the new textiles currently in the space.


This process enabled the smoking room to be re-imagined for the 21st century. Great care has been taken to preserve the original paint and wood surfaces with minimal interventions, and to evoke the spirit of the room through selection of pictures, ornaments and furniture based on the original inventory.

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