Life 'below stairs' at Anglesey Abbey

Domestic staff at Anglesey Abbey

Domestic staff at Anglesey Abbey

Latest update 24.06.2014 16:35

A major new visitor experience recreating life 'below stairs' opens at Anglesey Abbey on 28 June.

Every year thousands of visitors enjoy the beautiful house and elegant contents once owned by Huttleston Broughton, the 1st Lord Fairhaven. Now they can visit the domestic areas of the house to experience the hard work that went on behind the scenes to maintain Lord’s luxurious, regimented lifestyle.

The Domestic Wing of house has been restored back to the 1960s when it was last used as a private home. Rooms which have been restored include the Butler’s Pantry, Kitchen, Scullery, Brushing Room and Servant’s Hall, where staff used to relax when off-duty. The restoration has been part funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £82,400.

Gareth Sandham, the National Trust’s House and Collections Manager at Anglesey Abbey, said:

“When 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 restoration of the Domestic Wing will help us to show the other side of the coin and reveal the hard work that went on behind the scenes”.

“The 1960s is an interesting time period and this will be quite unlike many of the other ‘below stairs’ recreations seen elsewhere, which focus on the Victorian or pre-war periods. For many visitors it will be a trip down memory lane as they will recognise kitchen utensils and equipment that their parents or grandparents once owned”.

The Domestic Wing is designed to be a truly interactive experience with visitors encouraged to handle artefacts. Specially trained Encounters Volunteers will demonstrate butlering skills, how to prepare afternoon tea fit for a Lord, and how to hand churn Lord Fairhaven’s favourite ice creams.

To ensure authenticity, the Trust worked closely with the local community to capture the memories of former staff or their relatives, many of whom lived in nearby villages. Artefacts to dress the rooms were also donated following local appeals.

The 1st Lord Fairhaven was a quiet, generous and wealthy bachelor. Much of his wealth came from his American grandfather who was one of the founders of Standard Oil. Lord Fairhaven purchased Anglesey Abbey in 1926, and soon set about remodelling and extending the house to provide a home for his superb and varied collections of works of art. Over the next four decades he transformed the estate into one of the great 20th century gardens. He bequeathed the estate to the National Trust upon his death in 1966.