Scattered Stories Forgotten Spaces

A basement room at Nostell, filled with wine bottles from years gone by

Ever wondered what lies behind Nostell’s locked doors? Discover more about this beautiful country house in 2016 as you explore forgotten rooms, see the collections in a new light and unravel tales of lost treasures.

The opulent rooms that Nostell’s visitors know and love tell the stories of the people that lived and worked here, through the furniture, architecture and exquisite craftsmanship. However these rooms are only some of Nostell’s history; there are 300 spaces in this country house, many of which have been left empty, holding forgotten stories and opportunities to be used differently. In 2016, visitors are invited to enter unseen spaces and discover more about Nostell, not just in the beautiful objects that remain, but also in the hidden, the lost, the sold and the scattered.   

What can you see?

From spring 2016 you’ll be able to enter three rooms on the second floor, which have never been seen before.  In contrast to the grand state rooms of the floor below, these bedrooms have long been stripped of their original decorations, leaving behind a blank canvas. 

The Green Bedroom has previously been used for cataloguing spare items such as door handles and curtain ties
A bedroom on the second floor at Nostell, used for storage
The Green Bedroom has previously been used for cataloguing spare items such as door handles and curtain ties

In the Grey Bedroom formerly a store room, a familiar favourite of the collection can now be found; the 18th century doll’s house stands proudly against bare walls, allowing visitors the time and space to enjoy every detail of the Georgian masterpiece. Across the corridor, a new photograph exhibition is on display, which captures Nostell’s full range of rooms including places that are not generally open to the public, from spaces used as stores and offices to those left completely empty, waiting to be brought back to life. To serve as a snapshot in time, the images were captured over a 3 week period by Dominic Russell-Price, using basic lighting, with no composition and no objects repositioned.

See the elaborate doll's house at Nostell
Close-up detail of a room in the Doll's House at Nostell Priory
See the elaborate doll's house at Nostell

As well as exploring previously closed spaces, visitors can also uncover new stories about the house as they explore other rooms. The Museum Room now showcases Charles Winn’s curiosities, telling the tale of the missing Etruscan vases, once a world-class collection pieced together as a labour of love and later dispersed in the twentieth century, leaving only six behind at Nostell. In the Billiard Room, two display cases delve in to the identities of previous book owners, where you can see signatures, annotations, sketches and scrapbooks of lesser known Nostell residents, including the only bookplate we have found so far amongst the 7000 titles, to be designed by a woman.  

Share your thoughts

The Scattered Stories, Forgotten Spaces project is part of the grand vision for Nostell, in which the team are asking the question, how should we use a country house today? Curator for the project, Chris Blackburn tells us: 

" Nostell, like any house, is in a state of constant evolution. It adapts to be relevant to the needs of its times: from family stately home and working estate, to World War Two training ground, to a National Trust treasure house sharing its history with thousands of curious visitors every year."
- Chris Blackburn, Project Curator

In order to discover how Nostell should evolve to meet the needs of a twenty first century country house, the 2016 project is an opportunity to seek the thoughts of the visitors, staff and volunteers that enjoy it today. 

Watch this space…

The new rooms mark the start of a year of changes to experiment with new ways to tell Nostell’s stories and provide experiences that are stimulating and rewarding. Developments later in the year will include a contemporary artist’s interpretation of the Etruscan vases in the Museum Room and the attics being opened up for exploration as part of the daily visit.

We’ll also be hosting weekly insights into the historical collection with conservation in action demonstrations every Thursday 2 – 4pm. We’re really keen to hear from people on their thoughts as the project develops through the year, both onsite and through our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Nostell is open Wednesday – Sunday, 1 – 5pm (by guided tour only 11am – 12pm) until 30 October 2016.