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FURNITURE BRINGS HOMELY TOUCHES TO WROXETER'S ROMAN HOUSE

(2nd May 2012)

<p>FURNITURE BRINGS HOMELY TOUCHES TO WROXETER'S ROMAN HOUSE</p>

The Roman Town House at Wroxeter Roman City, built by Channel 4 for their series “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day” has an altogether more homely feel now, thanks to the installation of some replica furniture in three of its rooms.

The Triclinium (dining room), bedroom and shop area now feature custom-built replica wooden furniture as part of an interpretation project to help the record number of visitors better understand how the Roman household would have operated.

“We opened the Town House to the public last year to coincide with Channel 4’s airing of ’Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day’, and decided that we wanted to give visitors a chance to see the property’s construction first and foremost – so many people had seen the building rise on their TV screens over the series that really the building itself was the story,” comments Mary Wycherley, English Heritage’s site manager for Wroxeter Roman City.  “This year, we’re presenting a different side of the property, focusing more on how the different rooms in the house would have been used, with a few key pieces of furniture to help illustrate the story.”

The grandest furniture is in the Triclinium, where three couches and matching tables grace the floor.  This room was the most elaborately decorated, with frescos on the wall and a mosaic floor, and the hand-crafted wooden furniture reflects the wealth of the house’s merchant owners – beautifully made from English oak – which would have been readily available around Wroxeter - by Worksop-based History in the Making  When used, the couches would have been piled with cushions, but on display in the house, visitors can see the rope lattice that helped make the wooden benches rather more comfortable.

The three couches sit against the walls of the room, with wooden tables between them that would have been laden with oil-burning lamps and sumptuous banquets when the owners welcomed guests for dinner.

The town house’s bedroom furniture is typically simple, with a wooden bed frame and an oak chest for the occupant’s belongings.  “As visitors see, this is a room with no windows, which made it suitably dark for sleeping during the summer months, but also reduced draughts to make sure the sleeping space was as warm as it could be,” adds Mary.  “Occasionally, braziers would be brought in by servants to warm the room before the house’s owners retired for the evening, but they would not be been left burning whilst the room was occupied, as the lack of ventilation would have quickly caused a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide.”

A counter has also been installed in the shop area of the house.  At its peak, Wroxeter would have been occupied by around 5000 citizens, and the shop would have provided a good income for its owners, set on a busy street.

English Heritage’s historians have additionally installed interpretation panels, which are strategically located around the house to help visitors better understand the building’s purpose and the lives of its occupants.

The Roman Town House is part of Wroxeter Roman City, and is open daily from 10.00am to 5.00pm.  Admission prices are £5.00 for adults, £4.50 for concessions and £3.00 for children, with a family ticket (two adults and up to three children) available for £13.00.

For more information, please call 01743 761330 or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/wroxeter