Picture perfect and perfectly framed: the Pewsey firm that framed the Queen's birthday portrait

Written by Katie Kerr on .

Phillip Elletson in the Pewsey workshopPhillip Elletson in the Pewsey workshopPR Elletson of Pewsey played an important role in the full-length portrait of Her Majesty the Queen commissioned from the artist Nicky Philipps by the Royal Company of Archers to mark Her Majesty's ninetieth birthday.

The Royal Company of Archers are the Queen's Bodyguard in Scotland.  The portrait will hang in the dining room at Archers' Hall in Edinburgh.   The Queen is pictured wearing the robes of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle and standing at the top of the Archers' Hall staircase.

Katie Kerr went to visit the Pewsey workshop.  

It was a real pleasure to meet Phillip Elletson, founder of PR Elletson bespoke frame makers, gilders and restorers based in a large workshop in Pewsey.  I was shown round by Mr Elletson and the Office Manager and Secretary, Lindsey Wood.

Phillip Elletson and his team of talented craftsmen have recently completed work on the frame for Nicky Phillips’s portrait of the Queen for Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.

Copyright: Nicola Jane (Nicky) Philipps - Photo by Jo Hanley PhotographyCopyright: Nicola Jane (Nicky) Philipps - Photo by Jo Hanley PhotographyThe frame for the full-length portrait measures an incredible 109 inches x 73 inches.

An early stage in making the frameAn early stage in making the frameThe frame itself is made from bare wood using an 18th century composition technique. This involves making carved moulds to create intricate patterns and shapes that can be conveniently attached to the base frame.

The finished wooden frame is then gilded in gold-leaf to create a dramatic and unique impression. Along the inside edge runs an intricate lattice pattern and round the outer frame there is a combination of elegant pearls and delicate leaves inspired by the portrait itself.

Overall it makes for a very remarkable creation. The frame for this royal birthday portrait took three weeks to construct with a team of six people working on it.

“There is definitely a degree of pressure when working on such high profile projects,” Phillip admitted, “but overall it is such an honour, everyone is very proud to have been involved”.

The Queen herself commented on the frame, describing it as “remarkable”. It is not often that a picture frame even comes close to overshadowing its painting.

Detail of the finished frameDetail of the finished frame“This has got to be one of our biggest achievements,” Phillip told me.  However the firm's reputation for craftsmanship has, it seems, made them frame makers to the famous.

PR Elletson have also framed paintings for Spencer House in London, Prince Andrew, The Duke Of Edinburgh, Hugh Bonneville, Fiona Bruce and they have even made three frames for the multi award winning film The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Pewsey’s PR Elletson has also been featured several times on BBC's The One Show and Sky Arts. They framed the portrait of Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel by Nick Lord (named artist of the year by Sky Arts) and also the people’s portrait as featured on the One Show.

“We’ve come a long way from the old work shed in 1978,” laughed Phillip who has been managing the company for 35 years.

Phillip Elletson also emphasised that they do not just do high profile and large scale projects. Anyone can have anything framed no matter how big or how small. With a variety of sizes and authentic templates available, photographs and paintings can be framed or mounted.

Probably not too many people know that Pewsey is home to such a successful company whose craftsmen are available to the general public - and are not just reserved for Her Majesty the Queen!