This week, other the glamour of a brief BBC Radio 4 appearance to talk about our Christmas event, I have been thinking about next season. In March, when we re-open the house for the spring season, we will be unveiling a new exhibition in Mrs Greville’s apartment; so writing text and looking at design work has been the order of the day.
For the last two years a raffle-funded project has been looking into the private apartment of Polesden’s controversial hostess Mrs ‘Ronnie’ Greville. Hidden from public view until 2011 the apartment has been open to the public empty and unfinished. We’re now attempting to show our discoveries to the public in some interesting ways. This week we installed a paint timeline showing the layers of paint discovered in the bedroom. I think it looks rather like a Neapolitan ice cream but it is a very graphic illustration of how the room has changed from a beautiful violet to an avalanche of magnolia.
The design work for the exhibition by Hamilton Designs is also beginning to look really exciting.
In the apartment’s early twentieth century heyday, Mrs Greville boasted that in one morning ‘three kings had been sitting on her bed’. After her death in 1942 the rooms were willed to her personal companion Mademoiselle Liron, otherwise known as the ‘Archduchess’. This led to subsequent use as staff and tenanted accommodation. After a fire in 1960, the apartment was largely re-decorated by the tenant at that time, the indomitable Mrs Griselda Hills. The paint timeline shows two Mrs Greville paint schemes, a violet and a grey, and three subsequent schemes during National Trust ownership.
We have not yet made a final decision on how the apartment will eventually be presented to the public. I hope the exhibition, which is open from March 2014, will begin to peel back the layers of this fascinating set of rooms to show us what might be possible.