Lanhydrock plaster ceiling
Plasterwork represents a significant part of the West Country’s artistic heritage in the 17th century. 
Elaborate ceilings and mantelpieces were key in communicating complex views on religion, society, family, gender, and the environment. The Genesis cycle in the Long Gallery at Lanhydrock House, with its 36 large narrative scenes on a 116 feet long and 20 feet wide barrel vault, has always been recognized as the centrepiece of this tradition.
The National Trust is embarking on the restoration and repair of the ceiling, and has partnered with the University of Plymouth to document and interpret the intricate narrative designs. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is supporting the project with a Curiosity Award.
Full ceiling in the Long Galley, Lanhydrock House
Outside photograph of Lanhydrock House
Close up of the detailed plaster carvings on the ceiling of Lanhydrock House

Project details

Adapting methodologies from the field of art history and digital heritage, this interdisciplinary project will transform the understanding and public perception of the ceiling. In terms of the design, the project focuses on the new identification of a set of visual sources that inspired the rich depictions of the Book of Genesis. These art historical findings are brought together with digital heritage surveys. 

Digital scanning

The project will use cutting-edge 3D laser scanning to reveal the plasterwork in unprecedented detail. This will offer new insights into the material creation of the scenes and the design of their iconography, establishing the ceiling’s international import.
3D image of Lanhydrock House ceiling

Project impact and outcomes

The 3D model will be integrated into a 20 minute film about the Long Gallery, available in both flat screen and dome formats. The flat screen version will be displayed at Lanhydrock and the dome version will be shown at immersive venues in the UK and overseas. Both settings will include 1:1 scale tangible 3D prints of the ceiling.
The process of digital scanning to investigate the ceiling will also be the foundation for a series of impact activities at Lanhydrock, directly informing the new visitor route and experience from March 2025. 
Digital scan of Lanhydrock ceiling shown in computer programme
Scaffolding used to digitally scan and restore Lanhydrock ceiling
Close-up 3D digital scan of detail on Lanhydrock ceiling