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Client

National Trust Arlington Court

Location

Devon

Services

Design

The Cellars

Revealing the unseen…

Visitors are fascinated by the service areas of historic 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.

  • The Cellars

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.

National Trust Arlington Court

National Trust Arlington Court

National Trust Arlington Court

Arlington’s cellars are a fascinating collection of spaces and corridors - to which the public have no access. This exhibition gives life to those spaces, and to the people who worked in them.

National Trust Arlington Court

The Butler’s room 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.

National Trust Arlington Court

National Trust Arlington Court

National Trust Arlington Court