Some 75 years since it was left to the nation, a packing case becomes the centre of a new visitor experience at Blickling.
Lord Lothian died in 1940 leaving Blickling’s house, most of its contents and 4500-acre estate to the National Trust in his will, ‘subject to regular access to it by the public’.
He understood that the preservation of the fine Jacobean house and its historic garden and parkland depended upon the public visiting it regularly and holding it dear.
Now, a rather tired suite of function and store rooms, which used to form the private living space of Lord Lothian and his sisters, has been transformed in time for a new visitor experience opening at Blickling Estate on Saturday, June 6.
Carpets have been taken up and floors waxed, and clever interpretation throughout the house will aim to provoke visitors to really think about Lord Lothian, Philip Kerr; the legacy he left, and the influence he had on world politics and the development of the National Trust’s acquisition strategy.
The whole house is transformed into a state of flux as Lord Lothian ‘moves in’.
Signs of his comings and goings will include trunks, suitcases and hatboxes, and there are letters to and from illustrious house guests to be read and sent.
Marketing and visitor manager, Jo Bosch, said: “We’ll show the house as it would have been – a place of hospitality, with music of the period, personal letters, ashtrays, whisky glasses and newspapers.
“Lord Lothian’s old bedroom reflects his restless nature and his travelling.
“We’ll share snippets of the many facets of his more quiet and personal side and a large packing case will be placed in the centre of the room.”
A dream space lies within the box, where his innermost thoughts, memories and personal objects can be explored – the private space of the public man.
Visitors will be encouraged to peer through peepholes in the surface of the wooden crate into Lord Lothian’s bedroom, and whispering voices will speak about the man.
The new Morning Room highlights Lord Lothian’s speech at the National Trust’s annual general meeting in 1934 and an interactive map illustrates his legacy through his pivotal role in the National Trust Act 1937 enabling whole estates to be left to the Trust in lieu of death duties.
Lothian’s bequest enabled the preservation of Blickling and paved the way for the subsequent acquisition by the National Trust of many of the houses that are visited and loved by National Trust members in this country and beyond, including Blickling, Wallington and Cliveden, to name but a few.
Jo Bosch added: “We really hope our visitors will enjoy this very different presentation of the hall.
“The importance of this local man’s role in world politics and the development of the National Trust really ought to be told.
“The whole team has enjoyed working with story-telling experts November Club on this project.
“We hope it encourages debate and reflection, and helps visitors to answer the question, Why are you here?”
Come and experience the story for yourself – find out more at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling.