After Richard Wood (1806-1900; see GAC 3829) was made British Consul-General to Tunisia in 1855, he arrived in Tunis to find that the Residence used by his predecessor, a palace at La Marsa owned by the Bey of Tunisia, was again in use by the Bey. With no official residence, Wood initially lived with the French Consul and later in a room attached to the Chapel of St Louis, at Carthage. Eventually he was able to purchase a house known as the Palais Ben Ayyad from the Bey’s Treasurer, who was forced to move to France following disgrace for misconduct. The Bey agreed to bear the cost of expanding Palais Ben Ayyad and Wood added an additional wing of his own design and a dome to enclose the courtyard. The house remains one of the most unusual British diplomatic’s residences today. It is lined with 19th-century hand-made Italian wall tiles and features fretted plasterwork ceilings, elaborately carved arches and an arcade of marble columns, with a painted ceiling. The edge of the Residence can also be seen in an oil painting of c.1897 by former British Consul and amateur artist Sir Harry Hamilton Johnston (see GAC 17675).
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