Standen

What goes on behind the scenes at Standen House, an Arts & Crafts family home


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Dressing up the House

Jan and Sue decorating the Stairs this morning

Jan and Sue decorating the Stairs this morning

Every year the house is decorated for Christmas in either a Victorian or 1920s style and you all get to come in and see the finished product. But not this year; if you come to visit in the next two weeks we will still be dressing the house up for the festive season.

Two ladies, Jan and Sue, from our volunteering team are in charge of organizing who does what when as well as being the first ones in to decorate. We do take pictures of what was done the previous Christmas, especially regarding the placement – and decorations – of the Christmas tree but mostly Jan and Sue rely on their memories of what worked – and did not work – from the previous year.P1040305

Christmas in the 1920s was similar to today – although not as commercialized. The children eagerly await the arrival of Father Christmas and their presents. Christmas trees were put up and lit with real candles – tinsel was even used though it looked more like long strands of silver and gold. Whole families would gather together, attend Church and have a big Christmas meal – though you were more likely to find beef on the table instead of turkey. Branches and leaves were used to decorate the house inside and out as well as Christmas Wreaths on the doors.

The Wreaths

The Wreaths

For the Beales, Christmas was a time to gather together. Mr Beale (and later one of his sons) would dress up as Father Christmas whilst the children would hide in the Hall. Father Christmas would then sneak into the Drawing Room, clatter the fire tongs and the children would come running in to see him, most especially to see what presents they were getting.

Later in the life of the Beale family, Christmas became one of the few occasions for the family to gather at Standen.

 


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All Tic-Toc at Standen!

Winding the Clock in the Drawing Room

Winding the Clock in the Drawing Room

Hi, I’m Caroline, one of Standen’s part-time Conservation Assistants, helping with the daily, weekly and annual conservation tasks within the house.

One of the first jobs I was introduced to was checking, winding and resetting the clocks. It’s one of the many routine weekly  jobs which do not take too long, but you need to be mindful when handling each clock, especially looking for any changes which may affect the workings of each one.

We do this every Tuesday morning so we can keep an accurate record of how each clock is performing. We note the minutes each clock is ahead or behind and

Benjamin Bulline Table Clock

Benjamin Bulline Table Clock

how many turns of the key the springs or weights need to keep the clock running. Any problems are reported to our Clock conservator, who comes to visit  annually.

As you can imagine, each clock has it’s own personality and it does not take long to know which clocks run slow and those that keep perfect time! If I could take one home, it would be the Benjamin Bulline Table Clock (circa 1770) located in the stairwell. It’s an oriental design with beautiful ornamentation.

J.W. Benson Clock

J.W. Benson Clock

Another clock I’m really fond of is the J. W. Benson clock which sits proudly above the fireplace in the Morning Room, due to its chimes. This clock always runs ahead of time so we need to reset the time by winding the hands forward, hence we get to hear its delightful charm!

Whats your favorite clock in the House?

Caroline, Conservation Assistant


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Object of the Month: November: Brass ‘Secessionist’ Mirror

sta0511This mirror was made in  Vienna, Austria around 1900. It is made in the Art Nouveau style, a style favoured by Charles Rennie Macintosh and Gustav Klimt.

 Secessionism refers to a movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where groups of modernist artists split from established schools and thoughts of Art. This first started in Paris and Munich, before moving onto Vienna, Berlin and finally,  Cologne. The best known ‘Secessionist’ movement happened in Vienna and led to the birth of Art Nouveau.

Art Nouveau is inspired by natural forms and structures, like plants, flowers and curved lines. Art Nouveau grew out of the Arts and Crafts movement (although it formed alongside the latter half of this movement) and the designs of William Morris.

Joseph Hoffman, an artist of the Vienna Secessionists, broke away from the Art Nouveau movement to form the Wiener Werkstätte, the Austrian version of the Arts and Craft Movement.

 


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The Return of the … Fender

The Fender

The Fender

We have recently welcomed the return of the fender that sat in front of the fireplace in the Drawing Room. It was designed by Phillip Webb and made by John Pearson, a renowned Arts and Crafts metalworker. It is decorated with sunflowers, matching the wallpaper, curtains and light sconces.

The Sunflower

The Sunflower

The fender has been in the home of Philomean and David Tas for the last few decades, both having strong links to Standen. David and Philomena came to Standen in 1969, when David was employed as Farm Manager by Helen. he ahs fond memories of working on the farm: “Standen was a lovely farm to run with the principal enterprise being milk production from the herd of pedigree Jersey cows. These were Miss Beale’s great love and her interest in the cows and the farm in general was acute.”

Helen Beale

Helen Beale

Philomena was later employed by the Beale family to be Helen’s nurse (she was qualified as a professional nurse) and looked after Helen until her death in 1972.

Helen was a strict  but fair employer but she had strong ideas of the distinctions between staff roles. David says: “Miss Beale was a kind and fair employer but drew a firm distinction in her relationship with staff. If Philomena needed to remove a washbowl from the bedroom Miss Beale would not permit her to do this task as she was a professional nurse – one of the house servants would be summoned to perform the task instead.”

Helen’s Will encourage her staff to take away an item that would remind them of their time working there. Philomena chose the fender as a reminder of the times that Helen and her would sit by the fire in Drawing room in the afternoons. Philomena sadly passed away earlier this year, and her husband, David, returned the fender to us.


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There is no “I” in Team, but there is “U” in Volunteer

Lat week, Kate, our Volunteering Development Officer, and I went along to Sackville School to talk to some of the sixth formers’ about volunteering for the National Trust and Standen.

There are many roles across the property here from the garden to the house to the wider estate to admin – within each domain, there are varying roles from people giving just one hour a week to people who give several days – it is all dependent on how much time you wish to give. For me, it was interesting to hear about some of the roles that fall outside of the house, like garden stewards, who are not so much involved in the garden but are more involved in being around to talk to visitors.

Talking to 16, 17, 18 year olds sixth formers  made me think about what angle would get younger people interested and enthusiastic about volunteering, especially as it would mean giving up their time after school or on the weekend when they could be out with mates, having part-time jobs or even completing school work. I found that talking about the fact that volunteering looks good on your CV and that it can make your application for University stand out, got them thinking about what would suit them.

Visiting this school also made me realize what opportunities there are out there for everyone, not just  for younger people but also those who are looking to increase their skill set or even as something to do once you retire. The key is letting people know, which was the point of visiting the school but also about this blog.

So if you would like to get involved or if you know someone who like to learn something new and different then please contact us.


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Clearing the Conservatory…

What the Conservatory looked like before

What the Conservatory looked like before

If you have visited recently, you may have noticed that our conservatory is looking a little empty. As you will all know, the summer has been beautifully warm and sunny but unfortunately  this took its toll on the plants inside, especially the conservatory. One of our gardeners, Nick, tried to bring in better ventilation and keep the blinds down but temperatures still reached over 40 degrees centigrade daily.

The emptied Conservatory

The emptied Conservatory

High temperatures causes stress in plants as well as increasing the need to water more frequently as well as encouraging pests to thrive and spread. Unfortunately this is what has happened to the conservatory’s plants. There were lots of different infestations which caused the plants to look bedraggled and forlorn but the worst culprits were Aphids, Mealy Worm, Red Spider Mites, Scale Insect, Vine Weevil and White fly. The infested plants were cleared and put outside, waiting for the cooler weather and the whole of the Conservatory was scrubbed. The plants will be put back eventually, with biological controls in place to help prevent further large scale infestations.

One of the good things to come out of this clearance was that a beautiful Gloriosa ‘Rothschildiana’, a type of lily, has been planted.  It climbs up the wall, using little hooks at the end of each leaf to grab onto support wires, after which it starts to produce some beautiful yellow and orange lilies. They are a summer flowering plant so it is coming to the end of its season but it is still interesting to see how the plants hook onto support wires.

The Lily

The Lily

The Gloriosa 'Rothschildiana'

The Gloriosa ‘Rothschildiana’


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Object of the Month: Utrecht Velvet

Easy Chair in the Drawing Room

Easy Chair in the Drawing Room

Utrecht velvet is a strong, thick plush velvet that is most commonly used in upholstery. Here, it has been used to upholster three easy chairs that were designed and built by Morris & Co.

The pattern is stamped onto the velvet making it appear darker and slightly raised.

The Dutch Suite, Titanic, in First Class Image Courtsey of CyArk

The Dutch Suite, Titanic, in First Class
Image Courtsey of CyArk

Utrecht velvet was first produced in the Low Countries of Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Morris adapted this idea and sold it from 1871.

It was manufactured through Heaton & Co in Manchester, who were later employed by White Star Line to decorate the interiors of the Titanic. Utrecht velvet was used for the walls of the Dutch Suite, which was part of the first class accommodation in the Titanic.

 

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