This is a piece of painted wall plaster from Folkestone Roman Villa.
The walls of the most important rooms were decorated with colourful designs, which artists painted on the plaster while it was still damp (fresco).
Only the rich had painted walls. Poor people made do with ones made from wattle (inter-woven branches) and daub (a mix of mud, blood and animal dung).
Green paints were made from malachite, red and yellow from ochre, and black from red wine. The best glue or size was made from bulls’ testicles!
Wall paintings included pictures of gods and goddesses, garden scenes, people singing and dancing, and geometric designs like this one. Some of the finest in Britain are at the Painted House in Dover, including Bacchus, the Roman god of wine.
This is a watercolour of a Victorian tourist (with his guidebook) looking at wall paintings in the Temple of Venus, Pompeii. It was bought by Thomas Man Bridge of Folkestone, who visited Pompeii in the 1830s, when he was a young man.
Look at the vibrant yellows, greens, blues and reds of the wall paintings. Can you imagine how colourful Roman houses must have been?
The best Roman wall paintings are in Italy, in the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
They were preserved under several metres of ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79.