West Horsley Place Trust are delighted to announce that we have secured all the funding required to undertake a conservation project on the Geraldine ceiling, which we believe to be the oldest decorative plaster ceiling in England.

At over 470 years old, the Geraldine ceiling is in urgent need of specialist care and attention. In recent years it has started to show signs of cracking and is currently being supported by steel props and large soft cushions to prevent further damage.

We would like to thank the following organisations for their support. Wolfson Foundation have awarded us £50,700, part of which will support this project (the grant will also support the repair and cleaning of the damask silk that lines the Red Drawing Room on the first floor of the manor house). The Pilgrim Trust have awarded us £25,000 towards the costs and we have received a further £33,000 from a charitable trust and individual donor who wish to remain anonymous. 

Due to their generous support, the important work to stabilise the ceiling can take place this year. During 2024, our plan is to restore the visible plaster to its Tudor origins, and secure the plaster to the timbers above, ensuring its future preservation.


West Horsley Place has many stories and no story is more present in the fabric of the building than that of the ‘Fair Geraldine’. The Fair Geraldine, a sonnet written by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey in 1537, was inspired by the young Elizabeth Fitzgerald, often called Fair Geraldine, a young member of the powerful and connected Fitzgerald family. She grew up at the Tudor court and was educated with the young Princess Elizabeth.


Geraldine’s story intersects with that of West Horsley Place when she married Sir Anthony Browne, a favourite at the court of Henry VIII. In 1547 Henry gifted West Horsley Place to Sir Anthony and he and Elizabeth took up residence.

One of the legacies of their ownership of West Horsley Place is the small Tudor room on the first floor of the house. The beautiful ceiling is embellished with low, plaster reliefs with the initials ‘AB’ (Anthony Browne) and ‘EB’ (Elizabeth Browne). The ceiling was installed in 1547/8 and we can be confident of this date because Sir Anthony’s death was just a year after he was gifted the house.

Originally the ceiling would have stretched across the whole of the Red Drawing Room on the second floor. At some point in the building’s history the rooms were partitioned to make a smaller side room. A plan drawn in 1730 shows the entire Geraldine ceiling, shortly before the majority was lost in the 1750s. The Drawing Room was modernised in the 1750s with a flat ceiling while the Geraldine Room was allowed to remain in full Tudor glory. This only makes this last surviving section of the ceiling even more valuable to the heritage of the site and to the importance of West Horsley Place as a grade 1 listed building at risk. 

We’re delighted to be well on our way to preserving and protecting this very special part of the Manor house and hope you will follow our progress!