The designers and historical experts rush to get the house finished for opening day. Will the National Trust accept the outlandish schemes, and what will the public make of it?
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Everything can be sat on. Played with. And enjoyed by the visitors.
Avebury Manor will be reborn to reflect 500 years of its history.
But time is running out. It is taking twice as long as it should.
The Trust is getting nervous. starting to get really quite
anxious now. With opening day in just a month's time, can we pull it
off. It is touch and go if that will go through the front door.
There is an awful lot to do before we hand over.
We have deadline and we are keeping that deadline.
It is autumn, and with only four weeks to go before we hand the
manor back to the Trust, it is not exactly a hive of activity in the
house. But outside, the Trust is already
Designer, Russell Sage, is out and about barring began hunting,
unruffled by -- bargain hunting, unruffled by the deadline. Four
weeks is a big deadline, we have to make sure everyone is focused.
Russell is in is element, scouring the country for table ware and
drink kits. We never know what we will -- drink kits. We never know
what we will iend find. Russell hasn't got a shopping list, but he
will know what he wants when he see it is. What about this Nothing can
be too expensive or precious. you do �30 on it. We want visitors
to be able to handle on it. Can you do 200 of those and those. �360 we
are done, go on. Russell knows a thing or two about haggling. Can I
have a receipt. We're down to �120, it is making me �15. Half price, go
is only because it will disintegrate further. You won't
make it back to London. Very Art This method uses a high lead
antique look. It is much cheaper to make them than buy the real thing,
hot in here. Hello. You must be Jo. What is the first thing you have to
do? Picking up the blowing iron, and gech it in the water and make
you pick up too much molten glass, can adjust slightly and cut the
glass, it is best to get the right amount every time. I have to get
the bubble in there as quickly as possible. Now I'm blowing quite
gently. It's all about the turning, stopped turning everything goes off
centre and goes wrong. I'm dropping out the stem in the middle of the
cup. I'm ready to put the foot on. using a foot board, a hinged board,
hinged together with some leather, kept in a bucket. That is so clever.
That is perfect. You have got that wonderful bubblous balances trade,
put into a kiln to slowly bring them down in temperature and stop
making carpets for 70 years. I'm checking up on two we have
commissioned for the house. One for our 1930s Art Deco sitting room,
and an absolutely enormous one for our Georgian dining room.
That is our carpet. Doesn't it look lovely. Sadly, of course, the
dining table will be over the middle of it. We will have to move
the dining table out occasionally to look at the carpet.
Specially designed for Avebury, it echos the architectural detail of
our dining room. Keeping an eye on quality control is Charlene. May I
stand on it, to Christen it. You may. I will take my shoes off,
I promise. 1234 Have I spotted something? And
I haven't even got my glasses on. The next carpet to come off the
machine, transports Avebury straight into the 20th century. It
is inspired by Alexander Keeler, who lived at Avebury in the 1930s.
Keeler was a rich Playboy, with a zest for life. Married four times,
he some how found time to indulge his other great passions, fast cars,
and archaeology. Keeler carried out his own historical makover, using
his robust brand of archaeology, to resurrect the Avebury stones.
He bank rolled his pursuits from the vast fortune he inherited from
the family business, marmalade. Our striking carpet is the first
completed commission to be installed in the manor. How
exciting. Perfect, spot on, that is. All we
need now is some furniture. Using Russell's zebra skin, Helen
is upholstering the chair typical of the Art Deco period. I can't
one before. This is slightly over the years. But never one like
this, certainly not in a zebra skin. I think it has been shot by a
Muscat, looking at the wounds here. That was the death shot. This is
the creature's face just here, here is his eyes. It is surprisingly
thick where the mane is. Wow. Then this side, you have a little
cupboard. You can put your bottles. It is the ultimate man's chair this.
Apart from without having the remote control!
Back in Avebury, work is up and running again in the dining room.
Corin and his brother Ashley, are applying 23 carat gold leaf to pick
out the ornate Georgian mouldings. I'm pretty much using the
traditional tools that the Georgians would have used. So the
reason I'm covered in cold is I'm using a guilder's tip, and to get
that little bit of static on the tip, I'm brushing it on to my
stubble. Having a golden beard is a total fashion statement, I can't
know I had one. So that's why men Gold started to fly everywhere, I'm
going to get out of here, it is too much of a mess.
Working alongside the boys are Chloe and Kevin, preparing the old
and uneven walls for our spectacular wallpaper, coming from
China. Because they are old walls, obviously there are cracks and old
drips of paint, and the lining paper will give us a smoother
surface to work on and hide a lot of it. I'm creating a straight edge
that I will then cut and make sure it all looks nice and neat. This is
often the problem with old houses, you don't get sort of totally true
straight edges, the corners of buildings might have cracked over
the years and been filled, you have wobbly lines. New houses aren't
totally square either, but they are a lot easier to work with.
It will be fine and look great. Russell's come to the upholsterers,
to work out how they will cover the Queen Anne bed in silk. After the
decision to go for precise much harder. Now we have ended up
with a shape, which I appreciate, is absolutely beautiful, but
virtually impossible to cover in fabric. You didn't realise it was
going ob all this. You thought, nice easy job -- going to be all of
this, you thought, nice easy job. There are 92 separate pieces to the
cornice, and to emphasise the fine detail, each contoured piece has to
be tightly covered in silk. It will be one hell of a job. That's our
shape, we are trying to get the fabric into that corner there, it
is quite tricky. Sample two coming up. You need to put a piece in
there, to there, and back tape that way and that way. My faith is
dropping, this is going to take you houses of hours, isn't T
-- it. It is taking twice as long as it should, you know. But, it is
a challenge. That's not the only challenge with
the Queen Anne bed. They are worried that the dome is too big to
fit through the manor doors. Once it gets there it will be tight.
Try to ram it through the door. Juggle it in, I reckon. With time
against us, they are going to have to start dressing the dome. We will
worry about getting it into the manor later. Once it is fully
upholstered, you can't grab hold of these, the only place would be
its side it will make a awkward to try to get it through the doors and
up the stairs. This is going to be our bill yard room, we are
decorating and furnishing it in a style inspired by Edwardian sold
yerb and champion sportsman, Lieutenant -- soldier, Lieutenant
Colonel Genner. He lived there up until the 1980s. We wanted to
reflect a time when upper-class men retired from dinner to the billiard
room for manly talk, port and cigars. Restorer, Peter Ludg ate
has started work on the rescued billiard table. To ensure the
finest playing surface, you need Welsh slate. Originally beds of
tables would have been made in parquet flooring. We have tried all
sorts of different surface, like glass, but slate is the tried and
tested way. It is heavy and stable and comparatively cheap. Brace
yourselves, each of the four slate segments weighs more than 20 stone.
That's it. Once the slate is in place, the
surface is finally sanded, before the cloth is fitted.
The thing has to be level, we have to get it absolutely spot on. It is
like tuning an instrument, it has to be tuned to perfection. It is
very nice, hello, I'm Paul, pleased to meet you. Have you put all this
bit of help with the slate i thought you would help us. I have
come at the right time! Do you know the ball runs beautifully, it
In Northumberland, furniture makers George Smith are at work on a
classical-style sofa for the dining room. It is likely to be one of the
most sat on pieces of furniture, so it will need to be sturdy.
This type of frame I would say is all me!
It's a production line of highly- skilled craftsmen, and women.
Obviously every aspect and process of the sofa is tricky. But to me
the upholstery is vital because it is the finished product. Every job
is a challenge, you don't realise material out, how it ends up, as
the finished item. You appreciate really what you are doing.
The Georgian-style sofa is the first piece of commissioned
furniture to arrive on site. It is not the only piece to be delivered
today. Our hand-painted wallpaper, which I saw being made in China has
arrived. 25 rolls of it. This is what we have been waiting for.
Chloe is only one of a handful of people in the country, skilled
enough to hang this unique wallpaper. Very, very excited.
has taken 12 artists over 600 hours to paint. Wow.
Wow. That is amazing. Absolutely, this is really what it's all about.
It really is. It's just such a massive badge of honour to be
involved in this, to be working with this work. Sorry! Every step
of the process is going to need absolute precision. Some people
might think I'm being a bit with something of this value, I
don't want to get it wrong. Just check the measurement again for the
millionth time, OK, good. Just try the bottom edge as well. We have to
quite quick. Obviously we don't want the glue drying out, and we
don't want the paper getting too wet. Getting the position of the
first piece right is key, it is a will determine how the scenes play
out around the room. Gently. That's great. OK, so just let it, keep
hold of it, keep it away from the wall. Now very gently, use the tip
of the scissors. That's it. Very carefully, that's it, I don't know
what the fuss was about! That's one down, only 24 to go, good luck
Chloe. Because it is hand made and hand
painted, there are, of course, going to be ve variations, so we
have got to do -- to be variations, so we have to do it as best we can.
If there is anything, there has to be a bit of an allowance, huhhhhhh.
Camera off! That's what happens when you are talking and working at
the same time, instead of concentrating. But it will be fine.
That's our fault. I am very happy. I have smudged it
here. If I didn't even notice that. Then no-one will, Chloe.
Historian, Anna Whitelock, has arrived, with the Tudor bed spread,
and the royal school of needle work's Peacock eyes. Dozens of
local needle workers have joined in to help. It is Dina's job to
organise the operation. I like that all the eyes are different sizes
and all the hands are working on it, the Royal School hands are working
on it and these hands here. In all, over 60 pairs of hands of all ages
have come together to make the bed spread. I have been embroidering
all my life, ever since the age of these young girls. It is fun coming
in later on when it is all done and saying I did some of that.
So authentic to be in a Tudor room and have a group of female
embroiderers at it, stitching and chatting as they go along. Each of
you is leaving your own little stitch on Avebury Manor, that will
hopefully be here for years to come. There is a tonne of work to do
schedule. Every room still needs its finishing touches to the paint
work. For Chloe, the end is in sight. The last piece of the jigsaw
puzzle, suddenly it will go, ping and everything will fall into place.
That's it. All done.
That's amazing, beautiful. I feel like I'm in the picture, I'm in
there. In China. I feel like I'm a part of this.
You need a big hug, come on. just three days we are due to open
to the public, if the National Trust aproves. So work will have to
go on around the clock. moved into the Mondayor. Sometimes
you don't want to get out of bed. My sock says Tuesday but it is
Wednesday. It would be better if it was Tuesday. Also on sight is
Russell's second in commands Daniella and Cameron. We need to
dress and stuff the mattresses. The rooms with the biggest wow factors
are the ones that we will be working until the last minute.
There is a delivery for the Tudor parlour, digital tapestrys of
pieces that hang in Hampton Court. They will be hung in the paneled
piece is hung on the right wall. This is V, that should be this wall.
The first job is to put up batons from which to hang the taps trees,
but as it is a grade I listed building, we are trying to use the
existing holes. This is the really exciting bit, going on now, all the
work done away from the property is Exciting, we find out if all the
measures will fit. Extra weight is added to hang them properly, the
creases are steamed out. Some are more stubborn than others, they
just need a little bit more time. Ed pabt -- the parlour will be
dressed for a Tudor meal, we need some plaipbts. As original Tudor
pewter is rare and expensive, Russell has an idea. He is
distressing junk shop pewter. it is being done by a hammer.
the 1915s, it consisted of a lot more lead. That is probably why
they all died so young! Now for some radical recycling? We will
melt it down, pour it into the mould there, let it solidify, and
produce a solid ingate for raw material for us to work with.
Before your very eyes, old tank cards into Tudor treasures. Back at
the manor, the rush matting for the Tudor parlour is here. It is thick
and very heavy. OK I have got it! Yeah, slow steps.
Can you see where you are going, Don't put it down. Oh! (panting) no,
no! (laughing) Ewwwww. Right then! The last job is to bind
the mat's edges, and then give it a good drink. It is rather like
having a pet in your house, you learn when it needs to be watered.
You can hear it, it sort of crunchs With 24 hours until opening day, I
have come to lend a hand. Dina and her crack team of
volunteers, are finishing the Tudor bed spread, by joining you will 55
Peacock eyes with a web of stitching.
Can I have a bash. You're doing stem stitch. Can you remember?
I will kneel down, is that allowed? We have been doing that, it is the
only way. I do a lot of work on my hours and hours, I hope you don't
need much more of me, I will be here doing this, it is lovely.
While Penelope is on her knee, some of us are humping furniture.
Do you want me to pull it out! Sorry. The deliveries keep on
coming. The manor is filling up fast. With work continuing in every
room, we have run out-of-space. are you? Now John jee Sainsbury has
arrived with a van load of Queen Anne furniture. It will have to be
set out on the lawn. Russell has had them covered, so our historian,
Dan Cruickshank, will get a surprise. It is the moment he's
been waiting for. Ahhh. So the Queen Anne day bed. One so rarely
sees day beds of that period. I have to do what I have never done
before. I can throw myself, crack. Do you know what, it is comfortable.
The Queen would be very happy here. Can I turn one over. This is
absolutely fantastic. We have one last present for you. Of course.
This is what I really need, the exercise chair. This is sensational.
I mean it is based on the original, beautifully executed. I love the
Gothic detail. Put your hands on this bit. More slowly. Are you
feeling any healthier? I'm feeling something! I think we should leave
it at that, don't you! Look at that. Try it. It is really comfortable.
marble. They are so beautiful. worried about them being damaged or
had them made new. Now the Trust has to protect them. They have to
be used. They will be fine, robust. Come on Dan, that's the whole point.
Local embroiderers Nicky and Lorraine are upholstering a foot
stool for Queen Anne. And Dale is embroidering a royal Monroe know
gram for the ultimate throne! are mating a toilet fit for a Queen,
posher than what I have at home. Our royal loo will be covered in
silk and velvet, how luxurious. I know what the chaps are like,
they leave the lid up. I don't think it would do for today.
gentleman might have to lift the lid. And be short!
The manor has so many rooms from different periods, Russell's got
his work cut out finding theg rates for the fireplaces. The chances of
-- graits for the fireplaces. The chances of getting it historically
right it is important the fireplaces look dressed. It doesn't
matter it is not a specific date, it looks like the job. We are doing
National Trust Disney, not anything else. I'm not sure Lucy agrees,
Russell. That is a little bit later than I was expecting. That is a hob
grate, they don't come in until later in the century. The picture
on the side is classical. I don't know if it's quite right, but at
happen very quickly without planning, without reference to us.
I spent six months buying things, 60 seconds stealing mirrors from
the toilets back at the house. is a curtesy to let you know what
is happening in the house. The other thing is cross-headed screws
that were used. I don't know what and whether they are correct.
tell anyone. Outside, a convoy has arrived, with
our two most important commissions. That is unbelievable, isn't it, it
is like buses. We have the Queen Anne bed and the Tudor bed. But the
problem we have got is, the dome for the Queen Anne bed. Because it
is so big, is it going to get through that front door?
That's one door down, two more to go. This is the bit we have been
waiting for. Great look at that, nice wide Tudor
front door. The bedroom door is the real test,
it is much narrower. That is tight. By the skin of our teeth it is in!
The bed is the centre piece of this room, but with 80 parts to assemble,
it is a race against time to get it up. Let's hope the Tudor bed is
easier, this is flat-pack turn furniture, Elizabethan style! While
the Queen Anne bed is flash and showy, with the crimson upholstery,
and golden brocade. Our Tudor four- poster has a rustic charm all of
its own. I wouldn't mind a kip in several layers of mattresses, so
Anna and the team get stuffing. The middle will be hollow fibre,
which we have here. This is our version of flock, which was bits of
wool, bits of ration, all stuffed in there. We will get pieces out
and ball it up. It would sag down a little bit. The important job was
to regularly tighten the ropes on could have a good night's sleep.
Night, night, sleep, tight, is the whole idea of the ropes tightly
strung. Both mattresses will be stuffed with feathers. That will be
lovely and soft, get it in and first time I have laid on a kitchen
is lying down, the curtains are going up.
You are smiling through, with flowers in your button hole. What
will be, will be. It is? We cut it fine, so many people running around
today, we will have a late night. I keep thinking I need a bit of time
in their place. You are not nervous about it? Not at the moment, you
can phone me about midnight tonight. I don't think I will. We don't want
a typical Stately Home kitchen, but something that reflects the tough
life below stairs during the First World War. We want to create this
sense of having to prepare stuff to go upstairs. It is very much the
upstairs downstairs thing. What we need to be cautious of is not
making it like a museum, not having tins stacked in way you might have
laid for a museum, but not for a working kitchen. It is 5.00, we are
handing over to the National Trust at 8.00am. All this stuff has to go
out of here, all this, the lights, the ladders. Everyone is very
casual about it, I'm getting really worried about it. OK are you happy?
point. We do. All right, I will crack on.
Just 15 hours to go and stacks to do. I think we better pick up the
Put all the pieces on the desk and Russell will choose which pieces he
will use. Nice to tuch, oak is always nice,
you get sensitive mouldings. I think there is an awful lot to do
before we hand over. It works, it works.
Oh my goodness, I absolutely hate it! Most of the heavy lifting has
now been done, I think. Not quite, Hannah. There is still
the small matter of the large dome I don't know about you Penny, but
I'm pleased to be out of there? Would you call it organised chaos.
I would call it disorganised chaos. There are so many people wandering
all right. Everyone is saying that and nobody is really cleaning up?
Someone asked me to clean and I said I wouldn't. Of course you
wouldn't? I asked Russell if he needed help he said I could make a
coffee? I think he needs coffee and a drink. He's coping OK. How many
people are in there? 40? Right, how many man hours does that make. It
will be all right on the night. Where are we going, down the pub?
Yes, I think so. I think the team are in for a very
long night. Russell has still got a dozen dead animals to hang before
he can go to bed. With all this stuff we sort out one
problem and move on to the next problem.
Time to lay my beautiful Ulster carpet. 1-2-3. Wow.
Lovely. Working at night is bad enough, but things are about to get
worse. What's happened, Tony. the power has gone. The whole
building is out. With so many lights on, we have blown the
electrics. Working in the dark, eh! Oh dear!
God are you all right! Where is your light Bar? In the van! Hurray!
Thank goodness, with power restored we can crack on.
It looks as though things are coming together. (laughing) Well,
almost. I'm so sorry. Is your foot all
right? The biggest challenge now is
exhaustion. I'm a little bit tired, but I'm already, everywhere you
turn there is something bread rolls in an apparently Victorian kitchen.
OK. Final touches to all the rooms are still being made. And our
embroiderers are settling in for the rest of the night. We have been
working for 11 hours solid, so that it can go on show tomorrow. Today!
Sorry. While Grant, Corin and Mark will be painting until they drop.
It is 4.00am and I'm knackered. think it's supposed to be Queen
aank reclining in this room, not the -- Queen Anne who is supposed
to be reclining in this room, not the work force.
Morning has broken, it's opening day. Well, we hope it is.
Morning. Good morning Penny. end. The great reveal. The handing
over. It has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Any tears? Yes,
lots of them. Now, it was a bit chaotic last night, I think the
Trust are going to be here anywhere now. I will go and find them.Ly
and talk to Russell. I will meet Russell. I will meet you in there.
Good morning ladies, nice and early. Right, it's the big day. What are
your expectations? I think we have had a lot of debate in the National
Trust about Disneyfication and dumbing down, that is where we
might be open to comment. What are you going to do if you don't like
it? I would be surprised if we like single room. I think that would be
a massive ask. But as long as people have a reaction, then I
think we have really achieved something. Russell? You're up there.
I'm coming to get you. What is this? This was for this lamp, but I
got the wrong shape, so I have to go out here. What time did you get
done? I finished at 1.00am, and back at 6.00am. Have you had
breakfast? I have. The National Trust is on the way, and Paul will
meek them, we will start in the billiard room, I would like you
Trust don't like it we can't open. Everything rides on this viewing.
Hello, good morning. The time has come. We'll go in, come in.
Dan and Anna are looking nervous. The billiard room, ladies. Where
the gentleman would retire after dinner for billiards and a cigar.
This looks different from when we were last here, my word. What do
you think? I love the cases. All the books. I have never seen books
on these bookshelves. Have you not? It is lived in now. It is
astonishing, it feels like it has always been here. That went down
well. Next, the Tudor parlour.
We're going back to 1565. The Tudor room. The Tudor parlour. Complete
with wall hangings, coats of arms, and look what you are walking on.
Bull rush bath matting. Sarah what do you think visitors will make of
the room when they come in, it is concerned, they will be used to
seeing this amount of furniture in some of our Tudor houses. What they
will not be used to seeing is furniture as new. I think that is
one of the really exciting things here. That here we have got new oak
furniture. But made traditionally with the traditional skills.
Exactly. That was good too. What about our chaotic kitchen.
This is our Avebury Manor kitchen, circa 1911. We have saved some
washing up for you as well. Oh my word! It was a big dinner party!
This is fantastic, the amount of Victorian, beautifully laid out,
pristine kitchens we have in the Trust, you rarely get a sense of
the wind of labour and meanal drujry that happens in these
places really give you this kind of feel. I love it. Getting exciting
now. Exciting yes, but it is all going a
bit too well. The Tudor bedroom, we have given it a nightime feel.
go in, before you go in there, you will all need one of these. Russell.
Right, so here is our intimate Tudor bedroom. Here we are.
Take a look up there. I wondered about the ceiling emblems, seeing
them now, particularly as they tone so well with the frieze. I think
they look fantastic. Thumbs up for the painting ceiling, after all the
debates and discussions. Not for me, what we did have here before, was
simply white. With the spirit of the project, getting the colours
together, on a really fantastic room, perhaps we can accept it.
Mmmm, Lucy is obviously not converted. Now, for our most
controversial room, with its vibrant colour scheme.
Here we are ladies, come in, this is our Queen Anne bedroom. Wow.
This is ready for her visit. Sarah, what's your gosh? Well, you know
what I said when we were discussing this about marbling in bedrooms. I
think you did find some. In the royal palace in the Netherlands,
Queen Anne and Mary's bedrooms had marling. I'm thinking Netherlands,
Avebury Manor, marbling, very aspirational!
Oh dear, I think that was our first no-no. Let's hope our hand-painted
Chinese wallpaper thrills them. So come in here, the governor of
Jamaica's dining room. Look at our Chinese wallpaper. It is all about
Georgian elagance, the trade routes are open, and everything is
available. Do you know what I had in my mind's eye, it was not this.
I love this. Have you seen Avebury? I have seen it, look there.
Oh my goodness me. I think they like it.
The public are already gathering at the gate. Well it has been a great
team effort, you must have seen how many people there were here
the amount that's been achieved in the last six months is absolutely
astonishing. And Russell, thank you so much to you and all your
craftmen for just the fantastic work that you have all done. To
Anna and Dan, because actually the whole essence of this is the
authenticity. And just being true to history.
Well, that's thumbs up, then. Now for our real judges.
Hello everyone. Hello everyone, thank you so much for waiting, I
can't start to tell you how excited I am to show you the new manor, as
she is truly beautiful, I hope you agree, please do come in.
Wonderful trapsry, they are absolutely stunning. I love the
messy kitchen. I haven't been to one room I'm disappointed with.
of the day. A cup of tea mother. The table is hiding the best bit.
Look. Absolutely gorgeous, isn't it. With all the gold bits as well, it
does look a bit Las Vegas, isn't it. Yeah, it is really nice. Is this
before or after dinner. Sit back and relax. I think I would find it
overwhelming. Everything is useful and tactile, thankfully, no.
doesn't like to go behind closed single object, in every single room,
there is a story to tell. engaging with the craftsmen and the
all been enriched by the process. people, tears, crying, from the
National Trust, seeing the rooms, the beauty, coming back from the
grave, it is like the dead rising, it is a resurrection, it is. This
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 151 seconds
magic stuff going on, it is as I What an exhausting day? Well that's
it, it's all over. Everybody's gone home. Isn't it lovely and quiet.
What a day. What a day, and when you think what this room looked
house. It is extraordinary. Cast your mind back six months, I can
The final part of this fascinating series presented by Penelope Keith and Paul Martin on the reinvention of Avebury Manor sees designer Russell Sage and the historical experts rush to get the house finished for opening day. But with the wallpaper held up in customs, a Queen Anne bed that is too big for the room and a last minute dash for furnishings, how can it possibly come together in time? Will the National Trust accept the outlandish schemes, and what will the public make of it all?