Wallpaper fragment: Chawton Leaf

Object name: Fragment of historic wallpaper

Object number: CHWJA:JAH427

Category: Objects

Description: A large fragment of historic wallpaper featuring a pattern of vibrant green leaves, possibly inspired by a type of dead nettle. There is also an accompanying flocked border, showing a dark green vine on a yellow background.

Most of the historic fragment is dirty and faded, but a small area of the paper (hidden beneath the border) is still fresh, revealing itself as a bright ‘arsenic’ green – a popular early nineteenth century colour.

Made: 1712 – 1836

Context: This wallpaper fragment was discovered in the Dining Room in 2018. The scrap features a rare, partial tax stamp on the back which enables us to date it: wallpaper was taxed in England from 1712 until 1836, so this paper must have been produced during that time. It is therefore very possible that this paper was on the walls when Jane Austen was living here.

In 1809, before his mother and sisters moved in, Jane’s brother Edward Knight undertook various other improvements to the House, which may well have included redecorating the Dining Room.

The wallpaper design was painstakingly copied and reproduced by historic wallpaper specialists Hamilton Weston Wallpapers and printed using the traditional hand blocking technique. The reproduction paper is known as ‘Chawton Leaf’ and now hangs in the Dining Room, as it would have done in the Austens’ day.

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