Funding enables us to recreate life ‘below stairs’

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve launched a major new project to recreate life ‘below stairs’ at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire.

Anglesey Abbey

Thousands of people visit Anglesey Abbey every year, enjoying the beautiful house and elegant contents once owned by Huttleston Broughton, first Lord Fairhaven, and now we want to show the hidden side to such a luxurious lifestyle.

The £142,400 scheme, which is partly funded by a grant of £82,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will involve the restoration of the domestic wing to how it looked in the 1960s, when Anglesey was last used as a private home.

Gareth Sandham, is the House and Collections Manager at Anglesey Abbey…

“When the first Lord Fairhaven left Anglesey Abbey to the National Trust in the 1960s he said he wanted us to preserve it as it was, so people could see what his life was like. This project will help us to show the other side of the coin and reveal the hard work that went on behind the scenes in order to keep the lord’s lifestyle running smoothly.”

Set to open in the summer of 2014, the newly refurbished domestic wing will enhance visitors’ understanding of how such a magnificent and unique house was run. It will be a hands-on, interactive experience that will have something for everyone, from those with a curious mind looking for detail to families looking for something fun to do together.

Using archives such as cellar books and guest books, we will recreate the atmosphere and activities that took place ‘below stairs’. We’ll also be working with the local community in order to tap into the memories of former members of staff who mostly lived in the surrounding villages.

Building work to recreate the authentic look of Anglesey in the 1960s will take place during the winter of 2013/14 and will involve the restoration of nine rooms, including the use of period furnishings. We hope visitors will find the refurbished domestic wing an interesting and enjoyable experience. There is a more serious side to this, of course, and that is the importance of the conservation work we are carrying out to preserve this hidden side to a luxury lifestyle for future generations to understand and reflect upon.

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for local people to share their stories of working at Anglesey Abbey and give visitors the chance to learn about how it all really worked. Volunteers will teach visitors how domestic servants carried out their roles and visitors will get a chance to have a go at table setting, flower arranging and collection cleaning, giving them hands-on experience of domestic life at the Abbey.”

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