If you read our blogs regularly you will know that the past few months have been full of office moves and new rooms opening up. The regional office hub moved out of the offices at Polesden Lacey just before Christmas. We have now been left with a lot of empty offices and an opportunity to look to the future of Polesden Lacey.
These room were most likely transformed into offices in the 1960’s for the National Trust’s growing workforce. There were also 4 flats for staff within the mansion house. Now that all these rooms lay empty we have spent the winter reorganising. The staff that remain, the House Team and Property team, have moved their offices upstairs and we have moved some of the collection into old offices upstairs.
Now comes the exciting bit, we are now able to start looking at the original uses of the rooms and what the future might hold for them. We hope in the future to open up more rooms to the public. In the first stage of this process our House and Collections Manager, Jonathan, has been working hard to find out all the original names for the rooms. Luckily we do have some old plans that have helped us, and even though some rooms have changed, walls and doors might have moved, we are now getting a picture of just how the house might have looked for Mrs Greville, her guests and her staff.
Very few plans of the house as it was in Mrs G’s time still exist, but luckily we do have this 1935 electrical plan. We can see the names of the room marked on plan. We all know the names of the show rooms well but its really exciting the see the names of the servants areas and the bedrooms upstairs. We can now match these up with the names on the bell boards as well.
Each of the bedroom or suite was given a name, many of names related to aspects of the house they were in such as the Forecourt and Courtyard bedrooms whereas others were given names of relating to the grounds such as the Copper Beech suite, the Yew Tree bedroom and even the Mulberry Tree Bedroom. Of course other were named for their owners, Mrs Greville’s bedroom, Her fathers suite was ‘Mr McEwans’ and remained so long after his death. Most important on the list of names is the Kings suite. Edward VII was a regular visitor to Polesden Lacey and the suite was named for him. He had a bedroom, bathroom as well as a Parlour (sitting room), this grand room now acts as a lovely meeting and training room for the lucky staff at Polesden. It boasts wonderful views over the south lawn towards Ranmore, with mirrored wardrobes and a glass chandelier it sparkles in the sunshine.
As part of this project Jonathan has taken all the names and created new signs for each of the doors within the house so that both Staff and Volunteers become familiar with the original uses for the house. The volunteers now take their tea breaks in the Butlers Pantry, while the house team type away at their computers in the Forecourt bedroom and our General Manger captains the ship from the Visiting Maid’s bedroom.
From April 27 visitors to Polesden Lacey will be able to get a sneak peek behind the scenes and be able to spot some of these rooms for themselves. As part of our new display “Society’s Soldiers” we will be running special Archive Tours which will give visitors an insight into the use of the house as a Convalescent Home during WW1 and show you some of the rooms not normally open to the public.
Booking will be essential as tours are limited to 10 people, tickets can be booked online here at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/polesden-lacey/things-to-see-and-do/events/