Rooted in Place: Connected to Home

A photo of the cedars at Upton

Step into an immersive installation inspired by words written home during the Second World War.

Experience summer-come-early at Upton House and Gardens’ new immersive art installation, ‘Rooted in Place: Connected to Home’, on exhibition from 1 February until 4 May 2020.

Visitors are invited to sit, lie, stop and dream beneath the Cedar trees, all whilst in the sheltered space of Upton’s Squash Court Gallery. This installation is a collaboration with artist Julie Howell, who based her imaginative creation on wistful memories of home during the Second World War.

The letters of Major Peter Montefiore Samuel – who once lived at the National Trust’s Upton House – are the inspiration behind the exhibition. While serving in the Middle East during the Second World War, he wrote to his family in rural Warwickshire, recalling happy memories of his faraway home:

" I would give all the world to be lying under the cedar at Upton in the summer and smell the unforgettable smell of grass and new-mown hay and hear the lazy humming of the birds and bees."

These evocative words moved Howell to recreate this memory through an art installation involving sight, smell and sound, that explores the symbolism of Upton’s Cedar trees and the theme of home.

300 years of Cedars at Upton

Each year, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we care for the majestic Cedar trees that have stood guarding the south lawn for over 300 years. As a symbol of resilience, they provide a place of shade and safety on hot sunny days and clearly evoked strong images of home for the viscount during his time in Egypt. 

As artist Julie Howell writes: 

“The 'Rooted in Place: Connected to Home' experience is a drawing together of several strands of story that exist at Upton House, exploring 'home' as an important connection between ourselves and the rest of the world. 

"Planted around 1680, the Cedar trees in the garden at Upton are a very special group of trees. They will have witnessed so much over their long and continuing lives. They are all interconnected and rooted in place, the very soil of Upton is their home.

“Peter Montefiore Samuel, 4th Viscount Bearsted, loved Upton House. In particular, he writes about the garden and Cedar trees at Upton. I felt they must have symbolised the essence of home for him at this time. 'Rooted in Place: Connected to Home' is a response to the many homes that Upton has provided over time.” 

Howell is an Artist and Experience Designer, often working with the memories held within places and the narratives that help us understand our place in the world. Her other recent work with the National Trust includes ‘EXILE’ at Kingston Lacy, Dorset and HumanKind at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

Caring for our canopies

Heather Aston, Head Gardener at Upton has said:

“Upton’s garden really is a hidden gem and the plants and trees in it are just as important a part of the collection as the paintings in the house. But it is delicate and during the winter we need to give parts of it a rest to recover from the footsteps of thousands of visitors. That’s why it’s so magical that people will be able to experience the garden in a new way, even when some are areas closed for conservation work over the middle of winter.

“The Cedar trees have dominated Upton’s garden for nearly 350 years, so it’s no wonder they conjured up feelings of home for Major Samuel when he was away during the war."

Not only can visitors experience the wonderful calm created by the Cedar trees - but they will also be able to find out a little more about how Heather and the rest of Upton’s garden team keep them looking at their best.

'Rooted in Place: Connected to Home' will be on exhibition exhibition from 1 February until 4 May 2020. The Squash Court Gallery opens 15 minutes after the property opening and last entry is an hour before closing.