Source material including diaries and watercolour paintings, some painted by the daughters of the house, have provided the inspiration and the information behind the choices made. English Heritage’s careful research, for example through physical investigation into wallpaper and paint samples, has enabled the recreation of the Nursery Suite spaces. Laid out in the 1820s by Richard, Lord Braybrooke and his wife for their growing family, the newly opened rooms now offer a step back in time to the atmosphere of a Victorian nursery. In interpreting these spaces and their uses, as well as the family’s story, PLB has worked closely with English Heritage to enable learning through play and interaction, using replica toys and games. Layers of interpretation, drawing on diaries and letters, provide an emotional connection to the lives of the children who lived at Audley End. In this way the ‘Child Pleaser’ family audience has the opportunity to engage with the past in a very real way, while the adult audience can discover the sources and their stories.

Within the Coal Gallery, the interpretive content is subtly integrated into the buckets and materials which supported this essential working area of the house. Unusual in its second floor location, the Coal Gallery was created to allow for the heating and transportation of hot water to the bedrooms on the upper floors. The approach ensures that the first impression is one of authenticity in space and function (albeit it without the steam, heat and bustle of a working space) with the opportunity to delve deeper and learn more through closer exploration.

Audley End House will be opening its doors and revealing these spaces in April 2014.

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