A team of historians, experts, and volunteers restore 500-year-old Avebury Manor in Wiltshire as a place to touch, experience and enjoy. Hosted by Penelope Keith and Paul Martin.
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There's nothing the British like better than a day out at a stately
home. It can be really disappointing. There are so many
rules - don't touch that, no entry beyond this point, don't sit on the
chairs. Wouldn't it be fantastic to throw all those rules out of the
window and start again? And that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm
Penelope Keith. I'm on a mission to change the way we visit stately
homes. It strikes me it's going to be quite a task to get it
altogether in the amount of time we have. And I'm not alone. On his way
to meet me is Mr Flog It! Himself, Paul Martin, who knows a thing or
two about antiques and old houses. So far, my team is myself and
Penelope Keith. So wish us luck! I have never met Penelope before. I
don't know what she is going to think of me. I was a good fan of
hers, I can tell you that. We are about to face the ultimate stately
home challenge. It all happens here at Avebury Manor in Wiltshire.
National Trust has given us six months to reinvent the manor before
it opens to the public with a cash budget of �225,000 - a lot to you
and me - and we are going to have to move fast. We want to create a
house rich and colourful and full of marvellous things to rival any
other stately home. This is impressive. The difference at
Avebury, nothing will be so valuable it can't be touched. So
delicate it can't be used. This is marvellous! There will be some
antiques rk things we pick up for a song. -- antiques, things we pick
up for a song and have to repair. Mostly, we will be making things
from scratch. Furniture, fabrics, made so well they rival real
antiques. Selling now. Get yourself comfortable. Right. We want to
create a bed fit for a Queen. Travel to far-off places to learn
about the lives of people who lived in our house. That is absolutely
brilliant. And bring a lost garden back to life. One has to be
optimistic as a gardener. If you are not, don't become a gardener.
It's going to be a journey of discovery and laughter. But
passions will run high. We have to deliver this project on time.
don't deliver, we have failed on The Wiltshire village of Avebury
sits pretty as a postcard in the spring mist. Avebury is famous for
its prehistoric stone circle. Lots of people visit all year-round. The
trouble is hardly any of them makes it to the village's other
attraction. The 500-year-old manor house. So Avebury Manor sits empty
and neglected. A few people visit its gardens, but the manor house
needs to make money if it is to have a future. Wow! It's dark.
is. Shall I leave the door open? would. Torches. One for you and one
for me. That's good. Gosh! Many stately homes stay in the same
family for generations. But Avebury's changed hands lots of
times. From a Tudor courtier to a Georgian soldier, a Victorian
champion polo player and a 1930s playboy archaeologist. That's nice.
Oh yes! What a beautiful room. A marble fireplace surround. It's a
gent's room. Does that need cleaning? Does it need cleaning?!
It does a bit. Who is it? The smoke has got to that. Oh dear. She is
upset. What about this - I'm old and badly damaged, please don't
touch me. Thank you. LAUGHTER This is better! That is more like it.
That is much nicer. Yes. Tudor. has a proper Tudor feel about it.
You like that? I do. You are Lady of the Manor. I like the light
behind me. Oh! Jolly nice. Is this Georgian? Yes. This definitely is.
Gosh. What room is this? Is it dining? I think it is a dining room.
It's a formal entertaining room. is. And the mouldings are beautiful.
This is in quite good nick. What is the fireplace? Is that... Stone it
looks like. That is beautiful. Any little boys up there?! LAUGHTER It
is the kitchen! That is nice. is nice. That is a lovely dresser.
It's got a good feel. A hub of the house feel. Here is the staircase.
So many people have known and loved this house. Even a Queen of England
came to stay. Oh! Wow! You see, it is like an Aladdin's cave, every
room is different. Look at that. is glorious. It bears no relation
to the rest of the house. doesn't. It's a bit of a
rollercoaster ride so far. Some rooms do it for me and others don't.
I know. I keep feeling we are going into different houses. It doesn't
seem to be part of one. There is no rhythm to it. No. How are you
feeling about this? I wouldn't know where to begin. I don't, to be
frank. It will be a long, drawn-out process. I think we can call it a
challenge! A challenge indeed. But is it one
the Trust is going to take on? afternoon. The Trust has owned
Avebury Manor for the last 21 years, but for most of that time it was
let out to tenants because there's never been money to do it up. After
the last tenants left, there were only two options - rent it out
again or do something completely new. We own all these extraordinary
places and people love them and they have enjoyed visiting them for
many decades, but they were getting to be a bit predictable, a bit
staid, and people were feeling it was a process that you walk around
looking at things. Our whole mission now is to bring up Avebury
to life, to involve people in the experience but what goes with that
is the reputational risk that you go too far or you are too
extravagant, or you don't reflect the spirit of the place and its own
stories. For me, the absolute core of it is two things - first, are we
being honest about the place, its people and the stories? We must not
be making them up. Second, are we honouring the spirit of the place?
That magic ingredient that makes Avebury what it is. Here we are
with the fairy dust. But we know we are going to have to argue our case
with the Trust every step of the way. What are you like in a fight?
I tell you what, we will upset a few people along the way. I shall
stand behind you! I shall smile. And say, "He says he knows what he
is doing!" What we need is a team of experts. Imagine living in that
part of the house. Interior designer, Russell Sage. Russell's
opulent interiors at the Goring Hotel in London impressed Kate
Middleton the night before she married Prince William. At home in
the world of restaurant hotel chic Russell's vision will be key.
Russell also has the vital job of persuading many of his crafts
people and suppliers to donate materials and expertise. You have
done this before. Not for 25 years! With a limited cash budget, if he
doesn't manage to persuade them to help, the whole project will fail.
Surely there's set designers who have got tapestries? Unlocking the
building's emotional past is social historian, Anna Whitelock. Fertile,
healthy and... Anna teaches history at the University of London. So
she's our people person. Anna is an expert in the Tudors and she wants
the lives of people who loved Avebury reflected in what we are
going to do. From a Tudor merchant on the make, to an English Queen
who came to stay. From people's sleeping arrangements to the very
best in bathroom facilities! William III's bottom, I guess! It
would have been sitting right there. This is history in the bath. Indeed.
Completing the team is architectural historian, Dan
Cruickshank. Dan has travelled the world in search of its most
spectacular buildings. When he is back home, his love of the British
country house has made him a one- man guardian of the nation's
heritage. Together, the three of them will invent the new look for
Avebury. Russell wants an interior as far away from a museum as
possible. At the moment it feels so brown and it should be so colourful.
Absolutely. We would have a massive bed... Anna wants the lives of
former occupants reflected around the house. In this room, we are
talking lavish, dining, we are talking plenty of booze. Dan will
see that architectural and design history is accurate to the letter.
This scheme has lots of challenges. One is to create characters who
lived in the house, reveal them, reveal their stories and have
dramatic decorative schemes all within the realm of historical
possibility. We have to respect the nature of the building. It is like
whether you are going to listen to Dan, or whether you are going to
listen to me! It is fantastic to see it through Dan's eyes and
Anna's eyes and see the kind of real history of how things should
be done. I'm excited because I feel like to me it is an emotional
experience of trying to re-live some of the lives we have talked
about and maybe build it from a human perspective rather than
historical perspective. A real sense of arrival to the room for
anybody visiting... The exciting challenge will be able to make this
project come alive and really experience what it would have been
like to have been in this house throughout the last 400 years.
Russell has just two weeks to pitch his design scheme to the toughest
judges from the National Trust. Lots to do. Always lots to do. But
the project will be delivered. Simple as that. It has to be. There
is always a deadline. We always have to work to deadlines. There
can't be any nerves because if there was, we wouldn't be doing it
in the first place. For the kind of challenges we get thrown, this is a
slightly above average challenge, This is Polesden Lacey in Surrey.
In many ways, it's a typical National Trust property. So, what
works for visitors here and what doesn't? Russell and I have come to
find out. There are definitely some horrors we want to avoid. The Trust
was lucky in Polesden Lacey. It came to them glittering and finely
furnished. It is beautiful. But the Trust has also arranged the house
so as to reflect the personality of its owner. Do we think this is Mrs
Greville? It must be. Quite a wonderful portrait. It is. Rather
demure Scottish face. Definitely. This is good... We too want to
decorate and furnish Avebury to reflect the personalities of people
who lived there. To give a real flavour of previous owners'
lifestyles and tastes. Like them or not, good or bad. We don't want
this in Avebury. No. And having just noticed, I don't want these at
Avebury. This is the old National Trust for me. Exactly.
A library. I knew that, there's books! Quite a relaxed library.
What I like about this room is the lack of ropes and the feeling of
the objects and things around to touch. Marvellous and the... ALARM
SOUNDS They have some kind of alarm. I don't know how it works. ALARM
SOUNDS Sounds like a dog-whistle! It does! Here we have - these are
all people she knew? Yes. Isn't it wonderful?! I love the hat and the
telephone. Wonderful. ALARM SOUNDS I feel like they are going to put
electricity through it. It is nice to see you can touch things. It is
more relaxed. The sofa is lovely. So comfortable. If we have a reason
to do something like this, down at Avebury, I am keen people should be
able to sit down. We will have books. Yes. Definitely. Books that
people can read and hold. Exactly. We need to put together a house
that people can touch and feel and the fact there was one room in
there with a barrier, that is not what we want. We want to make sure
people can use our house and get in the beds and jump up-and-down on
the furniture. Not sure how we will do it, but we will. We want people
to enter this house and have as much fun as we have had putting it
together. Yeah. The house is only part of what needs to be done here
at Avebury. Of course, with every big house comes a big garden. Now,
this is the topiary garden - it is lovely. I am very fond of topiary.
Marvellous cut boxes and the pheasant, I think he is supposed to
be. I think he's supposed to be a sheep. And they need a trim. Behind
this door is something that looks a bit like a secret garden. I'm here
to meet David Howard who is going to bring back to life a lost
Victorian kitchen garden. Hello. Nice to see you. What a mess!
It's a garden that's had many lives I think. Obviously, it was a
productive walled garden... what? Vegetables? Mainly for
vegetables, yes. David is no ordinary gardener. For ten years,
he was head gardener at Highgrove. This is the Gloucestershire home of
the Prince of Wales where David helped make Prince Charles' organic
dreams come true. Now we want him to create a garden for us, growing
vegetables and fruit in decorative borders. A garden both beautiful
and productive and, of course, organic. It's a huge task, but
unlike the house, we have the go- ahead from the Trust to begin work
right away. What I would like to do in creating a new design is not be
constricted by the plants and their positions. Right. I would like to
remove them all and give myself a free space. There's two pines that
won't be here? No, the pine trees are very incongruous. They are
relatively young trees. They are only 15 or 20 years old. They are
not for this garden. No, they are not. When I look around, it's quite
big with an awful lot of work. a huge amount of work in a
relatively short space of time. But I think I can do it. Bravo. Good
luck. It's auction day in Berkshire. Even though Russell is working on
the scheme for the house, there's an opportunity he simply cannot
afford to miss. We won't be buying many antiques for Avebury, but we
need a few special pieces. Today, we are interested in one lot - an
antique bed. It's not the four- poster Russell was hoping for but
maybe it could be adapted. The trouble is there's also a lot of
other people after it. AUCTIONEER: Lot 184, an oak bed
frame circa 1660 and later. And where are we with this? 550. �550.
600 at the back. 650? No more. 700, the gentleman standing. 700. 75 0.
800. 850. 900. 950. 1,000 with you, Sir. 1100 now. Now... The price is
rocketing. My goodness! Can Russell go any higher? 1,500. 1,600. 1,700.
1,800. At 1,800, the gentleman standing. 1,900. 2,000. At 2,000.
The gentleman at the back there. I'll split it once for you. At
2,100. 2,200 is bid. At 2,200, the gentleman at the back then. Selling
now. I'm in trouble with the budget!
Back in Avebury, we need to drum up some volunteer labour to help David
get going in the garden. It's Paul. Do you mind if I put a poster up in
the pub? Would you let us do that? We are trying to recruit a load of
volunteers to help out in the manor house. People can read that when
they are ordering a pint. Let me leave one of these with you. Do you
live locally? If I leave you that, OK? You don't need any equipment,
just turn up. I heard you, I'm passing through. Are you? Lots of
vegetables, herbs... Can you stick it in the window for a few days?
Yes. Can you put one of our posters up? Take a look at this. Are you
green-fingered? Definitely. You want to put it up in the window
yourself! I do. Getting volunteers and villagers involved in the
garden is our only hope of success. All we can do now is wait. It's the
first big day for the garden. Is David going to be disappointed? Or
will it be full steam ahead? We needn't have worried. Lots of
people have turned up. Local agricultural students, Trust
volunteers and villagers. Good afternoon, ladies, gentlemen,
students. Welcome. Thank you very much for giving up your time freely
to help me transform this disused walled garden into a Victorian
kitchen garden. Victorian kitchen gardens were a feature of most
large country houses supplying fruit and veg to the household. We
need to clear the garden of shrubs but not kill them in the process.
Are you going to re-plant them? I want you to lift them all. I want
this to be clear of plant material. It is quite a tricky operation. We
really don't want to kill anything. A big old root down there. Trying
to get it out. You have to keep the roots in tact otherwise the plant
will die. It is hard work. It is a challenge. It is hard. The ground
is actually quite full of gravel which makes it really compact. That
is the challenge. Walled to create a microclimate and laid out in
symmetrical beds and paths, the Victorian kitchen garden was a
thing of beauty so we have a way to go. Most of what's here would be
out of place in a kitchen garden and the two pine trees have to come
But nothing will go to waste in our garden. The branches will be used
to support runner beans. The great thing about having 50 people to
help is you have 50 man hours. If they are here for two hours, that
is 100 man hours. That is like me being in the garden for three weeks
on my own. You can achieve an awful lot. All the uprooted plants are
going at the end of the garden, leaving the rest free for David's
ambitious plans. This is looking good. Are you pleased? Yes. I am
pleased! It is fantastic. It is a pleasure to see people working as
enthusiastically as this, wanting to create a new garden in a
beautiful place like Avebury, creating something for the future.
Girls and guys, let's stop for a moment - tea break. You have done a
sterling job. Time to have a break. Thank you. And well deserved it is,
too. Back in London, at Russell's design
studio, there are days till the pitch to the National Trust.
imagine it would be the same fabric or would it be a poorer fabric?
is a frantic phone-round to his suppliers to get props and samples
to illustrate his new take on this old house. The house has got to be
this thing that fires people's imaginations so it is me playing
history with a light touch, adding bits in that are quite unusual, or
inspiring, or curious. That will keep all visitors happy. At last,
the day of the pitch has arrived. Russell has been at the manor night
and day preparing the rooms. quite a lot to do this morning.
Probably an hour-and-a-half to go. We need to keep working through the
rooms, dog a few last minute things. It will be -- doing a few last
minute things. It will be fabulous. The Trust has a duty to protect
buildings. It also has a bigger duty to bring them to life and this
building hasn't been alive for a At the Avebury Estate Office, the
National Trust team is gathering. Sarah Staniforth is one of the
Trust's bigwigs. And without her approval, the whole thing will be
off. If we were doing this from scratch, then we would do much more
research into the sort of the structure of the building because
we tend to base our restoration on precedent and whether it is from
documents or from physical evidence that we can find so this is a
rather different approach to what the National Trust would normally
do. Russell will also be seeing a lot of Lucy Armstrong. She has been
brought in by the Trust to approve day-to-day decisions on what is
historically acceptable. It really is huge. It's not how we would
normally work. It is not how I would work. It is exciting. It is a
fantastic opportunity to work in this way. It is also nerve-wracking
because you want to get it right. If we stop that for a second?
needs to be historically accurate and sympathetic to the building. If
it is not, then you have to go back and change it. The bigger
challenges are simple red tape, of you are not allowed to do that to a
wall, you are not allowed to change the architecture. We totally
understand Grade-I listed but we can change buildings without
affecting what they are and what is important about them. Don't get
confused! Avebury's General Manager, Janet Tomlin, won't have a veto on
what Russell does, but she is the one who needs the manor to start
earning its keep. I hope what we get is a really good idea where we
might be going with the transformation. We have all been,
not kept in the dark, but none of us really know. We have
expectations. Today we see what the designer is thinking. Also here are
Anna and Dan. Armed with historical evidence to back up Russell's
proposals. We are minutes away from our presentation to the National
Trust. I hope Russell's all right, he hasn't slept for the last two
nights. He is a worried man - well, we all are. And enthusiasm? Indeed.
This is what the whole thing is about. It's a lot to pull off. How
are you feeling? I was all right till a minute ago! It is going to
be great. The National Trust haven't seen it since Russell's
dressed the room. The last time they saw it, it was an empty house,
empty rooms, and we have to hope... Oh my God! We have to hope that
what they see they are happy with! This is your big pitch, Russell.
feels like that at the moment. We will see how big it is in half an
hour! It is the moment of truth. We are all here to give Russell a
boost. I think he's going to need it. I'm apprehensive because I know
it means so much to everyone. There's still lots to learn about
the house. Looks like they are coming soon! LAUGHTER Looks like a
School Report! Hello. I'm Russell. Nice to meet you. Lucy. Sarah.
Lovely to meet you. Jan. Well, at least the numbers are even - five
against five. Shall we have a look at a few rooms? I have forgotten
their names already - I'm sorry! The pitch starts in the oldest room
in the house. We wanted to take it back to the time of our Tudor
courtier, William Dunch, a social climber and a self-made man.
Obviously, this is a beautiful tie dor room. Everything in the room
needs to re-- -- Beautiful Tudor room. Everything in the room needs
to be done. We are picking a date of around 1660 for it when it was
seen as a very kind of flashy room. It was a new statement of opulence
for the owners and the things were quite gilded, there was a lot of
colour at that time. To think about somebody doing this to their house
today is quite a crazy thing. To think of it happening then was a
real show of wealth and... Come on, Russell! Let's be honest. You want
some Tudor bring! Tudor inspired furniture... He wants the Dunch
coats of arms painted all over the walls. I want people to go wow, was
it really like this? I can see what he is trying to do factually here.
Historically, bringing colour into the room, lots of golds because it
was a way of reflecting light. How would you propose doing the
painted walls? Obviously, I would like to paint the walls. But you
are not going to let me do that. would be a real issue for us if
that was straight on to the panelling. If you could find a way
of actually doing that on something that's in front of the panelling...
Whether we could find a piece of panelling to mount above the
fireplace, hung like a picture, and go through the process of painting,
gilding and really hung like a picture but true to the state of
the walls. That would look really nice. So Russell's colour scheme
has got a lukewarm reception from the Trust which is worrying.
Upstairs, he's talking even more colours. I have done a few samples,
both in the window and there is one here of the frieze which is picked
up on some of the historical colouring. The frieze is beautiful.
We have found various examples that it could potentially be coloured
and have more colour... The ceiling, these emblems have to be picked out
in colour? I think that ceilings simply for the very simple fact of
reflecting light back into the room... They don't like that.
very cost of trying to re-paint this every year, when the candle
fat had blackened it and when the soot from the fire had blackened
it... Are you saying the Tudor Rose would have been whitewashed?
think so. It is an economy as much as anything. You have the
fabulousness of the plaster, it is there. I think what she is saying
makes sense. I wouldn't paint the freezes, would you? Yes. You would?
-- The friezes, would you? Yes. would? Brace yourself, Lucy, you
ain't seen nothing yet! Welcome to the biggest and most exciting
bedroom for me in the house. As you know, this room has been referred
to as the Queen Anne bedroom. We would like to bring that image to
life. She is reported to have been here in 1704. For me, I would like
to bring that to life for you by going to town on the biggest bed
that really is a statement for the house and something I would love
the visitors to talk about before they even get there. My thoughts
are whether the bed could go in the middle of the room. In a sense,
that would be to work against the room itself. The back of the
headboard, it is a typical space that is never decorated because
they do expect it to be against... There aren't free-standing state
beds. I think that in a sense this is a space that we have. I want the
bed against the wall. That is interesting. Obviously, if you
lived here, yes. But I think... know, we are trying to give people
the impression that people do live here. It should be there. Putting
the bed in the middle of the room hasn't gone down well. So what
about the colour scheme? Marble effect walls and a sky effect
ceiling. I see a worried face. worried face was about the sky with
the marbling. Can you think of another room where there's that
sort of marbling and in a bedroom? I'm not keen on the marble
panelling. I love the blue ceiling. I want that all... In that coving
area, that would look stunning. That is so Queen Anne. It's all too
showy for the Trust. That's quite palatial decoration. A lot of the
ideas the Trust does like. This is almost like Harry Potter, isn't it?
The Governor of Jamaica, who lived in this house, died in this very
room. I'm with it. I love the idea of capturing the Governor of
Jamaica in this room. This feels as if we are on a journey now. I love
it. Absolutely love it. I do think it would be wonderful to have a
dramatic carpet covering most of the room. The more daring the
better. Can I get one of these? Let's take a big risk. Let's not go
half-way and regret that we didn't do the whole thing. If we are going
to do something brave, I would like us to be courageous. Ten rooms and
several hours later, what's the verdict? Has it all been too much
for the Trust? You have seen the rooms now, there's been a lot of
talking. A lot of talking! Are we in business? I think there are some
matters of detail that we need to... Many matters of detail? Erm...
Actually fewer than I expected. When is it full steam ahead or
partly steam ahead? I think what we have been given so far is very
broad strokes. Now is the time to next couple of weeks we can do.
not quite a green light, then. hope you won't be pulling in the
reins on Russell too much. Do you think he was holding back today? I
felt... I felt very comfortable. don't think he was necessarily
holding back. Absolutely, he's the creative type. He's got all these
fantastic ideas. If he had it all his own way, then it becomes
personal taste and this isn't about personal taste, this is about
historical accuracy and that little bit of fairy dust on top. Let's
make it work. We need to get that rubber-stamped within the next two
or three weeks so we can start. don't know whether we can agree the
whole. We can agree aspects of it. So we can get started? We would
want to get moving. But it has to be right. I was excited and I loved
all your things. I found them fascinating. I don't want the bed,
Paul and I were saying, I would prefer the bed against the wall. I
wasn't that keen on the marbling in that room? There's a wonderful
sense of adventure to materials like marble. We are not talking
about real marble, just painting that effect and I love it. I love
the clouds. Yes. We must have that. I'm trying to win the marble and
lose the clouds. Are you? We won't get it all. We will keep...
wonder - I will have a bet with you that they will take the clouds and
not the marble? OK. What's the bet? A fiver. No problem. LAUGHTER Our
plans for the house and the garden will mean a big change of gear por
the Trust. -- for the Trust. I'm not sure they are ready. After the
hottest May since records began, there's a nasty surprise for David
in Our Vic torian kitchen garden. - - in our Victorian kitchen garden -
no-one has watered the shrubs. They are looking very sickly indeed.
This is what I didn't want to happen. This border looked rather
lovely when we re-planted all the material. It hasn't rained for a
good while. No rain at all. These plants obviously haven't had the
water that they require. And quite The trouble is the full-time
gardens at Avebury, who tend the rest of the garden, have told the
Trust they are too busy to help David out. I'm not happy with the
situation with the National Trust at the moment. I don't feel they
have bought into the idea of re- creating this garden and it leaves
me a little bit uneasy. It's been a join it to the rest of the existing
garden. It's a fortnight since the pitch. The Trust is still chewing
over our dramatic proposals. Until they have agreed our plans, nothing
can happen in the house. The problem is we want to decorate the
manor in vivid colours using other historic houses as our model. While
the Trust wants us to use only colours they can prove were once on
the walls and ceilings at Avebury. So Lucy has commissioned paint-
scrapers to find out what colours lie beneath the modern paint and to
prove she's right about the Tudor ceiling only ever being white.
think it will be really worth analysing to see what lies beneath.
We don't know yet. By gently scraping away, you can reveal
slightly larger areas that you can possibly start to understand the
archaeology beneath the surface of what we have presently. It's bad
news for us if they don't find any evidence of colour. So is there
colour on the Tudor ceiling? Or not? I have taken about ten samples
so far. From various areas on the ceiling. And I haven't been able to
find any evidence of colour. I will set them in resin and make cross-
sections and then have a closer look at them under the microscope.
Certainly the main body of the ceiling from visual examination
today looks like it was white. That Maybe the Trust is right to be
worried. Lots of people care about the fate of Avebury Manor. Back in
the 1980s, there was another attempt to breathe new life into
Avebury Manor and it all went disastrously wrong. Before the
Trust took it over, Avebury Manor was owned by maverick property
developer, Ken King. Like us, he wanted to re-launch it as a visitor
attraction. Ken's vision was a kind of Elizabethan theme park. And it
did attract visitors. But the transformation of the manor enraged
the villagers of Avebury. NEWSREEL: I think we would all
agree that the Avebury Manor scheme represents the unattractive face of
the enterprise culture. We are determined to exercise our
democratic rights to resist it. That is our aim. Eventually, the
Elizabethan experience was forced to close. And the manor was bought
Hello. 20 years on, the locals want to make sure we don't get it wrong
as well. You are not flogging this? No. We enjoy your programme. Thank
you. Villager Sir Hugh Jones led the 1988 campaign. NEWSREEL:
attractive face of the enterprise - - an unattractive face of the
enterprise culture. Now he is back. Thank you so much for giving up
your Sunday afternoon. I know this means a lot to you. It is great to
see some young faces here as well. Your opinion really counts. It
really does. I expect some of you have been through this meeting
before with Ken King, have you? ended up in jail! LAUGHTER Well,
don't send me to the Tower just yet! What is there to prevent it
becoming the Elizabethan theme park that it was once? We are not
creating a theme park. That is for sure. It won't be a theme park.
This is still a National Trust house. Will any of the existing
rooms be left as they are? Yes. It's been lived in. That makes it
quite interesting? We are going to try and retain that. We want it to
be lived in. We want that lived-in look. It's all that social history
experience which we want to capture. I think it's an achievable project
but we need the help of everybody. It sounds to be an imaginative
project. One has to be careful not to develop an artificial promotion
for tourism here. Is it going to be helpful in teaching people about
the past? Or is it going to cause friction in the village again? We
will have to wait and see. Avebury welcomes visitors, but we don't
At nearby Wiltshire Agricultural College, an army of students are
working hard to provide David with seedlings and young plants ready
for our kitchen garden at Avebury. Carrots. We are going to put the
peas into these. David was quite lucky to find a willing local
college that has the facilities and the will and the students to carry
it all out. It is a massive job to undergo by yourself. You couldn't
do it in the time space he's got. So he needs as many hands as
possible to get the job done. all, about 500 seedlings will come
from here to our garden. We've got lettuce, Brussel sprouts, carrots,
tomatoes, beans, peas, and this particular one is a runner bean
called Painted Lady. The seedlings will germinate and grow faster here
in the glass houses than they will in the open ground. Back at Avebury,
You will see very rapid transformation. The machines have
only been here ten minutes. You can see what they have achieved. If you
leave them in here all day, most of the day, you will see the paths dug
out, the beds creates and literally within the space of a day we will
have created the bones of this There is a long way to go before
David will be ready for planting. Now, it is time to begin work on
the paths and create the borders. The plan for today is to get our
granite scalpings in. The nice bit is putting the edging boards in
place and creating the shapes of the new bed. That is the plan.
Fingers crossed! The paths will need 120 tonnes of gravel and
limestone chips, all laid by hand. Most of the people here are amateur
but extremely enthusiastic volunteers. What I am looking for
is some fit and strong young men with big muscles! David wants
everything to be right. If that is the centre where the board finishes,
I want you to put them two inches that way and two inches that way.
have watched this garden for the last 20 years, and I came in here
today and I could not believe what's happened in this short space
of time. It is a great opportunity for lots of different people to get
involved from different backgrounds and here you've got people from the
college, you've got school-children, you've got people from the National
Trust. And you've got people like myself from a local gardening club.
It will be interesting to see what it does in five years' time.
trick will be to ensure this hard work is sustained and let's hope
that in ten years' time we will think, wow, what we are doing now
here today, this week, has all been It is fantastic the way it is
coming together. Of course, not everybody on the ground can see it
all coming together. You come up here, you get a bird's-eye view and
you can see it happening. It is like somebody painting a picture
and eventually the artist completes the picture and it is like that.
The more activity, then all of a sudden the picture is complete.
It's been a long and successful day. The borders are marked out, ready
for planting. Where shall I go? Over here? Pretty hard work. Very
rewarding to see all that we've done. Just to see how other people
work as well. It is great. Very tiring, but I shall sleep well!
While work in the garden is well under way, the house is still on
hold. We can't wait any longer or we will never open the manor on
time. We have dispatched Dan and Anna to argue our case for colour,
regardless of the paint-scrape results. I am perplexed. We are
going to use relevant examples from around England. We cannot be
expected to have all the information. This is one thing. I
thought we had agreed it. We need to hit home that this is all about
what is it that gets visitors through the door? There's lots of
talk about heritage tourism and staycations. Legoland in Windsor
has God knows how many visitors a year. How do you get visitors into
heritage properties? Absolutely. We are trying to help them realise
their own aims and ambitions, really. Everything hangs on our
experts convincing Lucy and Sarah from the Trust. Hello. Hi. Nice to
see you. Come in. We meet again after that epic day touring around
the house explaining our vision to you. The purpose of today is to
perhaps re-state that vision and clearly, it's a different kind of
thing for you. It's not a traditional National Trust project.
It is not a traditional re- interpretation. It is about
ambition and also, I think, what excites us about this project, and
I think hopefully you, too, is the fact we can be experimental. How do
you make things real for a visitor? How do you choreograph that
experience? We are suggesting an interpretation. That's right.
That's what's so exciting about the project. I think it's inspiration
rather than re-creation. We agreed some way back that the references
we would use and apply wouldn't be specifically from Avebury but from
buildings of the right period, the right location, the right time.
That is the agreement? Yes. If the paint-scrape comes back with paint
- brilliant. If it doesn't, given that time is pressing, can we paint
the ceiling? It's crunch time. If the Trust says OK, we can brighten
up the house from top to bottom. If they say no, it's back to square
one. What we are saying is that from the point of view of our
visitors next year, we would explain to them that there is no
evidence there was ever coloured paint there. But for the purposes
of this project because there are precedents from other places, you
know, we have gone ahead with a reversible paint scheme so we are
saying yes. We are open to it. Brilliant. Let's give Russell a
ring! He better get busy! At last, we have the green light from the
Trust and work on the house can Next time: Setting Avebury alight.
Are we allowed to have real fires in the house? Most of the smoke
will probably leak. Keeping fit and healthy, the 18th Century way.
Secrets of the Tudor bed. yourself comfortable. As Anna and I
get cosy. Good night, Penelope. Victorian kitchen range saved in
the nick of time. It can be repaired. It is disappointing.
Presented by Penelope Keith and Paul Martin, The Manor Reborn sees a team of historians, experts and volunteers reinterpreting 500-year-old Avebury Manor in Wiltshire, putting the country house in to a national and historic perspective.
From the age of Elizabeth I through to the eve of the Second World War - and taking inspiration from other houses across the country - the series and project will reflect on the story of Britain across five centuries, exploring a wide range of craft and furniture-making skills and revealing the invention of 'the home'.
The house will be restored as an immersive experience - it will be one of only a few National Trust properties open to the public where they can touch, sit on and enjoy all aspects of the house.