The Ornamental Jacksons

Ceiling detail, Basildon Court

by Elizabeth E. Harper and Marion R. May

In 2001 I produced a book entitled “The Ornamental Jacksons” showing many of the commissions undertaken by my great, great, great grandfather’s ornamental plaster firm, George Jackson & Sons, in London.

My cousin, Elizabeth, and I have recently up-dated and reprinted this book which starts with early work executed on the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and the decoration of harps. The firm erected a stand in Westminster Abbey for the coronation of Queen Victoria to accommodate extra guests. Jacksons have decorated many royal palaces including the astounding Durbar Room ceiling in Osborne House.

Local properties include Christ’s Hospital, Hatchlands, and Polesden Lacey. Apart from decorating the S.S Great Britain they were employed by Cunard and P&O on their liners. The Duke of Wellington’s funeral carriage, which can be viewed at Stratfield Saye, also bears Jackson’s work.

The Victorian/Edwardian era proved very fruitful for Jackson’s Ornamental Ceilings etc., working for the nouveau riche at home and abroad under the direction of well-known architects George Devey and Edwin Lutyens. Every ceiling in Bletchley Park House was decorated in a different design. When the Cenotaph was due to be unveiled by King George V as the Portland stone hadn’t arrived in time Jacksons made a mock-up for the unveiling ceremony!

During the second world war the firm was busy manufacturing Bailey Bridge pontoons. In the 1950s many properties were in need of repair and restoration including Lancaster House in London and Guildford House Gallery.

They also supplied Chinese wallpaper to Ightham Mote in Kent. Throughout their lifetime they have received many Royal warrants and trophies including one for their work after the fire at Uppark. Because they still held the original moulds they replaced the plaster work in Windsor Castle after the fire.

Today the firm is still very busy and is now situated at Sutton in Surrey – albeit there are no Jacksons involved.

If anyone is interested in purchasing a copy of the book, priced £10 and fully illustrated, it is available from Marion on 01483 898206.

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