By Royal approval - the Bredgar-based company lighting up the world
Chandeliers that grace palaces and stately homes are being sent
to glamorous locations across the globe from a barn in Bredgar.
Reporter Rachael Woods found out more...
A leading light in the world of chandeliers is prospering in
R. Wilkinson and Son creates and repairs the lavish masterpieces
for eight royal families.
The firm has held the Royal Warrant of Appointment as a supplier
to the Queen since 1985.
The family business was established in 1947, and had been based
in London, with a Mayfair showroom and a factory in Catford.
But three years ago the Wilkinson family left the city for
Bredgar and boss David Wilkinson, the grandson of its founder, says
they have not looked back.
He said: “We made the conscious decision to move out of London,
as it is so expensive, and we are now enjoying a better quality of
The Grade II listed Wealden hall house, Bexon Court, has become
their home, while the adjacent barn, which once housed a swimming
pool, has been turned into a workshop, from where their creations
are despatched to homes in Russia, the Middle East and America.
And it is to America that the spotlight will fall on the
Wilkinson firm when filming takes place next week for the Discovery
Channel’s How Do They Do It.
Film crews will watch a chandelier being created and then follow
its journey across the Atlantic to a home in South Carolina, where
the complex task of putting it in place will be undertaken.
David, who remains tight- lipped about his customers, said: “I
will be going out to America with the film crew to oversee the
installation of the chandelier, although I am not putting it up
Things can and do go wrong – the scene in Only Fools and Horses
when the Trotters’ plan to clean Lord and Lady Ridgemere’s Louis
XIV chandeliers comes quite literally crashing down, is one
television’s most memorable comic moments.
David reveals that the Trotters’ misfortune is a very real one
and that not only has he been called in to pick up the pieces from
chandelier disasters, but his firm has actually installed a
chandelier in Clayesmore School, Dorset, when the classic episode
He said: “These things do happen and chandeliers do fall.”
The subject of keeping chandeliers spotless will also see the
Wilkinson firm featured in a soon to be announced ITV series about
Wilkinson chandeliers are made of gilt or silver-plated frames
and adorned with hand-blown lead crystal and range in price range
from £2,000 to £100,000.
The scale of work involved is immense, with chandeliers taking
up to two years to make and one of David’s creations being 27ft
Wilkinson also repairs broken glasses and tumblers and creates
wall lights and lanterns as part of its business.
The work is a vocation for 55-year-old David, whose family are
also dedicated to the business, with his wife Mandy and four
daughters all playing a role in running it, with the help of 15
David said that chandeliers from the elegant Georgian period are
the most popular with customers.
He said: “We are the only company left in the world that can
make faithful reproductions of Georgian chandeliers and we have
taught ourselves the art over many years.”
The past is the future for the family – and their global
business is really starting to put Bredgar on the map.
- The earliest candle chandeliers were used by rich families in
- The Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan, houses the
world’s largest chandelier. It has 72,000 lights and extends the
full 18 floors of the hotel
- The world’s largest solar chandelier is at the Bristol and Bath
science park and is powered by 700 glass bulbs which light up when
exposed to sunlight.
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