Well, it isn’t a bath and it didn’t belong to Nell Gwynn but it is very special and it has just had a complete once over.
It is, in fact, a 17th century oak panelled buffet for the display of silver plate, still in its original site in the entrance hall of Lauderdale House, Highgate – a Grade II* listed building dating from 1582 and a rare example of a domestic merchant’s house.
The ‘Bath’ was installed in the late 1600s by William Mead, Quaker and social reformer. Positioned at the end of the dining room, it would have displayed the household’s gold and silver plate. Designed in Classical style, it comprises an oak-panelled recess with a detailed marquetry inlaid ceiling, Corinthian pilasters and architrave, intricately carved cornice featuring flowers, fruit and foliage, and an unusual veined marble floor.
It is an important historic feature, with nothing like it existing in Britain today, and by a miracle survived a major fire in 1963. However, the resulting smoke and water damage took its toll and it needed significant repair and conservation to return it to its prime condition.