Unpeeling the layers June 13 2016

A view of the south corridor at Polesden Lacey

If you’ve visited Polesden Lacey recently, you may have heard about our Unlocking Polesden project, in which we are looking to unlock new spaces around the property. In this weeks blog post, Caroline explores the exciting changes ahead.

In the house at Polesden Lacey we will be opening up lots of new spaces as part of the project over the next few years.  Until recently, some parts of the mansion were occupied by our National Trust regional offices.  As these have now moved out to another site, we have the opportunity to open up to the public, areas of the building that have never been open before.
 

Mr McEwan's Room

 
I thought I’d give you an update on some of the work that we have been doing so far to get these areas ready.  One of the first new spaces to open to the public will be Mr McEwan’s bedroom.  Mr McEwan is Maggie Greville’s father and the person who purchased Polesden Lacey for Maggie and her husband Ronnie.  This will therefore give us a great opportunity to talk a bit more about Mr McEwan and where his money came from.  
 
A black and white photograph of William McEwan
A black and white photograph of William McEwan
 
Currently Mr McEwan’s bedroom is split up into many sections as it has at different times been part of a tenanted flat, offices and store rooms.  Therefore the work needed to put the room back to how it was in Mrs Greville’s day is substantial.
 
An empty bedroom at Polesden Lacey
An empty bedroom at Polesden Lacey
 

Facinating floors

 
So far, we have cleared the rooms out and it is already becoming more obvious what a large space it will become.  While removing some shelving that was a recent addition to the space, we also discovered an inlaid floor from the 1950s or 1960s, which was obviously put in when the room was used as a flat.  Although we won’t be having on display as it doesn’t fit with the original dimensions of the room or the date when Mr McEwan inhabited it, we hope to be able to protect it below a new carpet.
 
 
An inlaid floor at Polesden Lacey
An inlaid floor at Polesden Lacey

Discoveries

 
Other interesting discoveries are in the upstairs corridors.  We will be starting to open up some of the upstairs corridors early next year.  Currently they are taken up with lots of small rooms which created additional office space, but they should match in position the downstairs corridors, which are positioned round the central courtyard of the house.  We have already found from taking up carpets evidence of red dust which suggests that these corridors were carpeted in the same carpet as the downstairs corridors.  We have also discovered nice oak floorboards at the edges of the corridor, with cheaper pine floorboards in the centre.  This suggests a carpet runner with polished oak floorboards on show at the edges.
 
Building works will be beginning in June to reinstate Mr McEwan’s bedroom so please keep posted for updates as this takes place.
 
It’s an exciting time for the house team as we discover more about the building and start to unpick nearly seventy years of changes since Mrs Greville died.  We’re very much looking forward to being able to share more of the house with you.