Banking for Victory!
When war was declared and the Bearsted family move out of their picturesque country retreat – Upton House – and the family’s merchant bank, M. Samuel & Co. move in for the duration to protect staff and assets from the threat of air-raids in London. This year sees the 70th anniversary of the national victory celebrations. There are extra touches in the house throughout the year as we celebrate victory at Upton.
The economic war – working and living at Upton
This stately manor, in the idyllic Warwickshire countryside, was transformed into a hubbub of activity playing host to a well-oiled machine – all in aid of the war effort. As well as shoring up the nation’s finances by keeping the wheels of commerce moving, Lord Bearsted’s bank did their bit funding all manner of government projects from supply of parachute silk to credits for purchasing eggs from Hungary. The staff worked and lived at Upton, taking meals in the banking hall and sleeping in dormatories on the first floor.
The family’s war – deeds not words
Lord and Lady Bearsted had their own vital role to play in the nation’s war effort. Find out more about Lord Bearsted’s secret war work and how Lady Bearsted rolled up her sleeves to help run and finance mobile canteens in the East End of London.
As prominent Jews, Lord and Lady Bearsted were both engaged in the desperate struggle to help fellow Jews in peril across Europe. Lord Bearsted was a serious political thinker, a generous philanthropist and a man for whom his family motto – deeds not words – was a way of life.
Saving Upton’s art – the underground haven
How do you protect your treasures at a time of war? What do you save first? Lord Bearsted faced these questions for real in 1941 when the RAF built an airfield just a few miles away from Upton – once a place of sanctuary – now looked to be under threat.
As a trustee of London’s National Gallery, Lord Bearsted knew all about the gallery’s plans to ship its masterpieces to safety underground. Find out how he managed to get 40 of his own paintings safely stowed away in the Welsh slate quarry.