When we purchased the house the Ground and Lower Ground Floors were the offices for Racial Equality in North East Somerset. Prior to this they’d been used for an array of activities: a dentist’s surgery, classrooms, an artexing firm’s offices, the “Green Room” of the neigbouring theatre (access gained via the doors in the Kitchen paneling), meeting rooms for the Freemasons (via the same doors), and the living quarters of a chaplain. Said chaplain would access the next door chapel via the door at the end of the Dining Room which has been blocked up since 1809.
The dining table once belonged to Patrick’s great grandfather, who had a tile making business based in Forest Gate, London. It was the boardroom table in the factory which was bombed in World War Two. Patrick’s grandparents inherited it, and his father grew up sitting round the table. It then became the family table in Patrick’s childhood home Berdoulat in south west France, and is known affectionately as the “Berdoulat Table” by his family.
The grandfather clock is another link to south west France. The case is late 19th century, but the movement itself dates back to 1680 with Louis XIV (“The Sun King”) appearing in the top section of the surround. The provenance of the clock is the town of Condom (in south west France) which is inscribed on its face and is the nearest town to Berdoulat. It was fully restored by Wren’s godfather and close family friend Didier in 2007. He rebuilt the innards from scratch, and replaced the weights’ sashes. Rather eccentrically it strikes the hour at 4 minutes past, and then strikes again at 10 minutes past. This second strike is intentional, invaluable for labourers who may not be sure to have heard aright the first time their signal to down tools and have lunch.