Multiple secret compartments revealed

The Pope's Cabinet Conservation
(Video: Chris Corden)

Standing 13ft tall, The 'Pope Sixtus V' Cabinet, which is worth between £8m and £12m, is housed at Stourhead House in Wiltshire. It is thought the piece dates from the late 16th Century and was created for the family of Pope Sixtus V. The facade resembles a Roman baroque church, with doors and windows which are actually cupboards and drawers, within which are hidden numerous secret compartments.

One of the most important objects in the Trust’s collection, it began showing signs of stress a few years ago and its conservation became a priority.

Last year, Colin Piper, Conservator, completed his restoration work on this magnificent cabinet. It was then decided that the cabinet should be presented with a set of drawings and a 3D animation that revealed all its internal beauty. From the outside the public could not begin to image the lengths to which the cabinetmaker had gone to hide away 142 drawers, the total discovered so far.

Revealing the secret drawers
(Image: WH&P)

WH&Ps part of the story began with a visit to a workshop at Stourhead House, home of the cabinet since the 18th Century. A full day was needed to take all 142 drawers out, some so hidden we could hardly find them, and one which still cannot be opened. Some drawers were constructed with false bottoms and, once removed, revealed a second hidden drawer pulled out from behind. We took precise measurements and photographic references to be used back at the WH&P studio.

We have already finished constructing the plans; see it in our Line Illustration Showcase
We have also completed a three-quarter view illustration; see it in our Line Illustration Showcase

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