When Maud Russell moved out of Mottisfont she took most of the furniture and her objects with her as she had a house to furnish. As you look around our rooms you might think we don’t have a very big indigenous collection - but is this entirely correct?
The main items in our collection are quite often those things we don’t always notice. Some of our most important items are the painted surfaces. It’s not only the Whistler Room, Dining Room and Long Gallery walls – the majority of the doors in the showrooms and upstairs behind the scenes are painted doors.
The decorative scheme on the Dumb Waiter staircase, in the Study and the Morning Room also remain from Maud Russell’s tenure.
Many of our light fittings come from Maud Russell; those in the Whistler Room were made especially for the room from designs by Rex Whistler. When you’re in the Lower Corridor, take a look up at the star lampshades or at the lion faces on the lights in the Long Gallery.
Mrs Russell was an advocate of architectural salvage and sourced fireplaces from houses which were being demolished after the war.
Looking at old photographs, Mrs Russell didn’t have a lot of furniture in her rooms and we are replicating that feel.
We may not have had many family objects, but over the last few years we’ve received a number back from Mrs Russell’s grandchildren. We were given nearly 500 books, a number of pieces of ceramics, two sofas, a pair of footstools, numerous pictures, a vanity box, and three lovely pieces of furniture. Following conservation work many of these items will shortly be going on display.
As well as objects, we were loaned a number of photograph albums and scrapbooks. This has given us a great insight into the taste of the Russell family. Whilst we may not be able to get the original items, it means we can source something very similar to what they had.
Looking outside, many of our statues and urns date from the Russell era, as does the fishing hut and the summerhouse. These reflect Maud Russell’s love of the garden and spending time outside, and Gilbert Russell’s passion for fishing.
More information on our collection can be found on nationaltrustcollections.org.uk.