Ellys Manor is a small, privately owned and well preserved English wool-merchant’s house dating from the late fifteenth century whose design has been substantially influenced by European Hanseatic merchants’ houses. It is important in understanding the Northern Renaissance’s influence in England and is remarkable for the extent and preservation of a schema of internal wall paintings executed in a vibrant, verdure style on lime plaster. Stylistically these derive from fourteenth and early fifteenth century continental tapestries and pattern books and they extend through several rooms. The upper east chamber is of particular interest being extensively decorated with scenes from Aesop’s fables which are framed within a clearly architectural arrangement of pillars, cornices and crenelated dados.
This remarkably complete survival of a late medieval, domestic, decorated interior attempts an illusion arranged around all four walls of one being in a roof-top loggia overlooking a single panoramic landscape. In 2016 our research project examined the design of this room within its overall architectural context to better understand the motives, influences and design practices of the patrons and their artists. Colour laser scanning undertaken by our student Robin Moran was used to create a highly detailed 3D digital model of the entire building, including the east, upper chamber and new photography was undertaken to record the wall paintings. Along with documentary evidence these are being carefully used to inform the development of a new 3D digital reconstruction of the furnishings and room configuration of the upper east chamber as they may have originally been conceived. This process is being extended to a new architectural capriccio model, created to examine the spatial and allegorical intentions behind the illusionistic loggia structure. It is intended that the results of this study will demonstrate a previously undocumented degree of informed artistic ambition in the room’s conception as well as high degree of design integration between furnishings, wall paintings and architecture.