Paragon Restoration is situated in smart premises in the centre of the beautiful historic town of Thaxted in the heart of rural Essex.
There is great satisfaction in transforming a tired piece of furniture back into an impressive thing of beauty. At Paragon Restoration, everyone is encouraged to learn how to achieve a truly professional result whatever their background and experience. We work from first principles and develop every subject carefully, stage by stage. All our courses are open to everyone and no previous experience is ever assumed. Our classes are quite small and individual attention is always available.
Paragon Restoration has been established 25 years and holds courses and classes throughout the year. Below are details of our instructors who will welcome you to your course.
Matt is the tutor for French polishing, veneering, furniture restoration courses and classes, scratch and repair workshops and the Japanning course.
Prior to working at Paragon Restoration Matt worked in the finishing trade. He went on to train in furniture restoration at London Metropolitan University.
Matt came to Paragon with his wealth of knowledge over 6 years ago. Originally he worked under the auspices of founder Jonathan White but has now taken over the leadership of the courses and helps with the day to day running of the business.
During his time here, he has devised new courses which include Japanning, scratch & repair and more recently a Furniture Restoration course.
The art of Japanning is a particular interest of Mattʼs and he has developed a course for the beginner interested in lacquer work.
A scratch and repair workshop was introduced several years ago using modern finishes instead of traditional French polish.
The Furniture Restoration course was introduced in 2018 and has proved beneficial to our students.
Gill Laird, chair seating
Gill is the tutor for all the chair seating courses. This includes chair caning, rush, seagrass and Danish cord seating.
Gill is a full-time restorer and upholsterer and runs her own business locally. She has been involved in various projects, traditional and modern upholstery, chair reseating, soft furnishings. A very busy lady, who is also a member of the Basketmakersʼ association, she trained at London Metropolitan university formerly The London College of Furniture.
Gill came to Paragon Restoration over 15 years ago and has been teaching the chair seating courses ever since. For chair caning, she teaches the traditional six-way caning pattern, always very popular. More recently, as a result of growing demand Gill has introduced courses in rush and seagrass, which have been very well received.
Tutor for Gilding and giltwood restoration course
Sophie Woodhouse has been tutoring and working as a gilder,polychromer and decorative surface conservator for over twenty years. Her projects include restoration at New, Oriel,Corpus Christi,Jesus,Trinity,Lincoln colleges Oxford and panels for the Ashmolean museum. She was part of the team,which designed,made and gilded decorations for the Queenʼs Jubilee barge.Sophie designed many of the new images for the Samuel Pepys garden (at Admirality house). She is currently conserving a 16th Century retable.
A very experienced teacher, Sophie also runs a conservation summer school for International Academic Projects.For fun Sophie is a practising artist and belongs to a collective called Polychromery.
Sophie came to Paragon Restoration in 2010 with her wealth of experience and has been teaching the gilding course ever since.
During her time here she has devised a gilding course that reflects the students’ needs for either a beginner or someone with some knowledge of gilding techniques.
Brenda Gosling, restoration classes.
Brenda helps with the afternoon restoration classes. She attended the classes with Jonathan in the early 2000ʼs and has been an invaluable help ever since. During her time at Paragon Restoration she has attended many of the courses on offer, including French polishing, veneering and gilding.
Originally, Maureen helped out when Jonathan ran the business. Since the move to Thaxted in 2001, she has been responsible for the business administration and its day to day activities. Maureen deals with all the course bookings and runs the on-site accommodation.