Thursday, 9 February 2012
The Tudor Parlour (William & Mary Dunch 1551)
Dining Room (Sir Adam Williamson 1798)
There had been many enquiries during the first part of 2011, as to why Avebury Manor had remained closed. The National Trust were being tight lipped, giving nothing away. It was later revealed the reason for the closure was to allow the BBC in collaboration with The National Trust to film a new landmark series to be called ‘The Manor Reborn’, which was eventually broadcast over four episodes on BBC1 in November 2011.
The project team at the BBC had approached The Trust back in 2010 with an idea to undertake an historic makeover in one of their empty properties. The proposal was to recreate periods reflecting the lives of key people and events through history. The BBC wanted a country house and there were several properties under consideration, Barrington Court in Somerset being one. It was eventually decided that Avebury Manor would be an ideal location, as it was part of a world heritage site attracting some 300,000 visitors annually, so where better to showcase your project. So began a massive undertaking which needed to be completed in just one summer - 2011.
Today, the result is a 450 year old Grade 1 listed Manor house which has undergone an amazing, historic, six month transformation. The BBC series followed a team of historians, designers, master craftsmen and dedicated Trust volunteers as they breathed new life into the Manor and neglected Victorian walled kitchen garden. Nine rooms were selected for revival, which when complete would reflect different tastes, fashions and historical eras relevant to periods in Avebury Manor's history, from early Tudor through Georgian, Queen Anne, Edwardian and 20th century styles, all of which were painstakingly researched and unearthed through the Manor's archives. Presenters Dan Cruickshank and Anne Whitelock contributed their extensive knowledge of architecture and historic design respectively and worked closely with The National Trust‘s curatorial staff to ensure historic accuracy.
The finished project is a unique experience for visitors, enabling them to interact with all of the objects and furniture, as well as sit on all of the chairs without fear of a thistle in their bottoms, a prickly deterrent found at most National Trust properties to safeguard antique furniture and the like. There will be few antiques at Avebury however, just finely crafted replicas of period furnishings.
It has been my good fortune to have played a small part in the exciting restoration process at Avebury and even more exciting to have witnessed the public's very positive response to the project.
I only hope The National Trust take note of the interest expressed by the public with regard to the Manor's ghostly history (which The Trust sees fit to actively promote within many of its other properties) and create an exciting visitor experience, not just to enjoy and interact with period fashion as is the case, but also to share in the Manor's mystery and drama, which after all, is why people visit Avebury in the first place, is it not?
Avebury Manor is open Thursday to Tuesday between 11:00 - 17:00. Closed on Wednesdays.
N.B. entrance is by timed ticket, on a first come first served policy, so it may be advisable to telephone or order you ticket online to avoid disappointed.