Conservation and restoration of the historic building was key to the Beaney project.
- Replacement of exterior woodwork damaged by death-watch beetle, including re-carving of one of the pair of griffins guarding either side of the High Street entrance doorway (new wood has been left unstained and will weather and darken over time)
- Repair of Italian terrazzo flooring, made of coloured marble fragments and including swirling patterns and Canterbury coat of arms
- Removal of partitions to reveal the original beauty and scale of the historic staircase and rooms
- Restoration of the illuminated ceiling in the purpose-built 1934 picture gallery with lighting simulating daylight
- Creation of new wooden doors, brass door handles and door plates in the same style as historic ones
Before construction began the Canterbury Archaeological Trust excavated the site, revealing fascinating evidence of past occupation. The Beaney was known to have been constructed over part of the Roman Forum and one of the principal roads. A metalled road surface was found, together with a masonry building thought to be a tavern, a jewellery workshop, the bone-strewn floor and ovens of fast-food stalls, and a burnt-down Roman building with a gold bracelet hidden under the floor. Bone artefacts were uncovered from Norman times, and a range of broken bottles and clay pipes from medieval and later inns were found discarded in a cesspit. Also, fine stoneware tankards decorated with names and inn-signs. One, dated 1749, carries a relief of dragon-slayer St George and the inscribed name of innkeeper Henry Saffory: the ‘George and Dragon Inn' was demolished to make way for the Beaney.
Public artArt and craft were central to the original Beaney and new work has been commissioned as part of the restoration project.
Windows by Laura Thomas, with richly coloured open-weave threads in glass, mark the transition between old and new building at the heart of the Beaney between The Kitchen and Atrium. They were commissioned through the Museumaker programme supported by Arts Council England, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and the Renaissance programme. Further information about Laura Thomas at http://www.laurathomas.co.uk/
Kaleidoscopes by Anna Heinrich and Leon Palmer are located throughout the Beaney, offering ever-changing and playful views on rooms and displays. Commissioned and funded by Canterbury City Council and Kent County Council. Further information about Heinrich & Palmer at http://www.heinrichpalmer.co.uk/