A look inside the Norfolk furniture workshop with links to National Trust
- Credit: Danielle Booden
A team of craftsmen is busy in a workshop in a Norfolk village restoring furniture for landmark buildings across the county.
David Bartram is at the lathe, turning a piece of wood, Andrew Harvey is planing a sash window and Etai Even-Zahav is sharpening a plain iron.
Since it was founded in 1981, David Bartram Furniture, which is based in Heckingham, near Loddon, has gone from strength to strength, having conserved furniture for the National Trust at places including Blickling Hall, Sheringham Park and Felbrigg Hall.
Among their current projects are restoring windows for an abbey for the Landmark Trust.
David Bartram, 61, who founded the business, says his interest in restoring antique furniture began during a rain-soaked fortnight in Cornwall.
"My parents started going into antique shops because they were dry. They were always interested in antiques after that. And I was good at woodwork and metal work in school.
"That's where it came from," he says.
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Mr Bartram studied at the Hewett Academy and then at City College where he learned furniture-making from tutor Charlie Yeates.
He applied to West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, near Chichester. Out of 1,500 people, 45 were interviewed and only 15 students were admitted.
Mr Bartram was one of them.
After graduating, he set up his first workshop on Reepham Road in Norwich.
"It was pretty dire to start with," he says.
At first, people didn't trust him with antiques because he was so young, he says, but about 25 years ago he started doing some work for the National Trust who were looking for people who had graduated from West Dean.
That first workshop was 40 square metres, with only Mr Bartram working there, while the current workshop spans 800 square metres and boasts six craftsmen.
"It's what I enjoy doing," Mr Bartram says. "I have a cousin who's an occupational therapist. She calls it focussed meditation, because you just get lost in time. I get into the workshop at 8am and sometimes it's four o'clock before you wonder where the day is gone."
This month the company will rehang two paintings by Thomas Gainsborough at Blickling Hall.
Another upcoming project is making furniture for Norwich Castle.