By CleanSteve

The Bastard Brothers showroom

Camilla let me accompany her on a recce to Blandford forum in Dorset, where we visited John and Val, who are hosting the next South-West Association of Preservation Trusts meeting. I often attend the meetings but can't go to the next one, so a chance to get a guided tour around the old town centre was not to be missed.

Our hosts live close to the town centre and have renovated their own early Georgian house close to the ancient ford across the  beautiful River Stour, leading into the town centre. We had a wonderful meal in their garden after a tour around the wonderful old buildings in the town centre. 

Blandford forum is rather unique in that nearly the whole town was destroyed in the 'Great Fire' of 1731. The story is well told in this Wiki entry, recounting the tale of the 'Bastard Brothers',  John (ca 1688–1770) and William Bastard (ca 1689–1766) who were British surveyor-architects, and civic dignitaries pivotal to the rebuilding of the town.

John and Val had arranged for us to go inside this building and to visit the first floor which is now part of an Age concern's charity shop. Back then it was a study and showroom for their decorative plaster wares, which you can see all around the room including the ceiling

From the wiki entry:
At the time of the 1731 fire the bachelor brothers John and William occupied a house in Blandford Forum that belonged to the Trustees of the William Williams charity. The Bastards had extensive workshops and premises at the rear of this building. After the fire they rebuilt the house at their own expense in exchange for the grant of a long lease of the premises from the Williams charity. The room known as the Bastards' Study or the Mezzanine Room was ornately decorated, unlike the rest of the house, and served as a showroom for their skills in plasterwork, woodwork and interior decoration. The pediment of the overmantel is Palladian while the pediment of the door opposite is Baroque, this occurrence, coupled with the squat appearance of the composition, would not have occurred in the work of a major architect of the time, but was the Bastard's way of showcasing their versatility.

This room is open to the public on one day a year, the day of the annual Blandford Forum Georgian Fayre, held on the first Monday in May. For the rest of the year, the room is used as a storeroom for Age Concern's charity shop which leases part of the Grade I listed property.

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