If you’ve visited Standen in the last few months, you may have noticed one or two changes as you came to the end of your journey around the house. We’ve been looking at and refreshing the way we present the servants’ areas of the house to give these areas a bit more context. One of the areas we have been concentrating on is the Dog Leg Corridor (so-called because of the bend in the corridor, which would apparently stop cooking smells reaching the family part of the house). We started work on this area a few years back; removing a doorway and a false ceiling that were later additions. This was a lengthy process that involved fire and safety considerations and listed buildings consent, among other things.
The removal of the false ceiling revealed an area of William Morris Trellis wallpaper; showing that this area was once as heavily decorated as the Morning Room Corridor, which it leads on from.
A new, suspended ceiling was recently fitted to hide wires and other electrical fittings. The fact it is suspended means that further damage to the surviving Trellis wallpaper is avoided. We also added glass coolie shades to the light fittings, which are in keeping with the light fittings in the rest of the service wing.
Although these works made the Dog Leg Corridor more historically accurate, we felt that it was still a little anonymous: walking along, one didn’t necessarily get the feeling that you were heading away from the family part of the house, towards the ‘working’ part of the house. An evolving ideas process led us to decide upon something a little different when it came to interpreting this area – the corridor was almost a blank slate, and so we were able to do something bold and eye catching.
We wanted to highlight that this corridor was a transitional space from family life to servant life. Inspired by a quote from the Beale family archives, an anamorphic design was created: different parts of the design were painted on different areas of the corridor; coming together to create a whole when viewed from the start of the corridor. The colour and rosette around the quote are inspired by the roses in the Morris Trellis wallpaper, again underlining the transition from the richly decorated family quarters to the more austere service areas.
There has been a really positive response from visitors towards the anamorphic design – just the other day, I overheard a visitor comment that it was clever and thought provoking. The re-display of the Dog Leg and service wing is a long-term project, so do keep an eye out for more changes and improvements in the future.