National Trust Arlington Court

VISITORS TO TRUST PROPERTIES ARE OFTEN VERY INTERESTED IN THE SERVICE AREAS OF PROPERTIES

They are the engine rooms to these houses, on one hand complex sets of spaces and objects, analogous to kitchens and utilities which we know today but with grand scale, on a simpler level, they are where more of us find our own family stories. It’s easier for most of us to find house maids and footmen in our ancestries than Lords and Ladies.

The rooms available for the visitor journey were ‘blank canvasses’ onto which we could plot the new interpretation, we felt it was important to link the bats (the ‘bat cave’) with the story of the cellar rooms. The previous residents were the service staff, now it’s the bats' time… We used the bat interpretation as an introduction to the cellars and the stories of their various residents over time.

Within the Butler’s room this was set up to tell the stories of the people who worked in service and the complex community involved in running a house such as Arlington Court. The focus in the room was a large estate map, which connects directly with the kitchen activities it allows the visitor to explore how the wider estate and community interacted with the house, with supplies being delivered, food being grown and staff living in the surrounding area. With it being important to link the up and below stairs where possible, we allocated an area in the space where visitors could dress up.

The rawness of the Servery is displayed to interpret the below stairs spaces, their functions, and how they interacted with ‘up stairs’. We created a large canvas divide which showcased what was behind the blocked walls. In the centre of the space a simple whitewashed tactile floor plan focusing on the cellar rooms and above this, we suspended a backlit canvas with a map of the rooms above, relating the up - and below stairs spaces.

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