A celebration of memory at Boughton House

1st May, 2018

An exhibition celebrating historic and significant memories of Boughton House and those who lived there will open this summer.

The MEMORY exhibition is inspired by the fabled collections of the Dukes of Buccleuch, the centuries of family heritage, with music as a guiding thread.

Boughton played a significant role in WW2 when it was heavily requisitioned by the War Office for the storage of precious items from the British Museum and as a prisoner of war camp. The camp chapel’s altarpiece, painted by a German POW, has recently emerged following new research.  It will be a poignant highlight of the exhibition, along with the map of St Lucia, drawn by the 2nd Duke following his disastrous 1722 expedition to the Caribbean, and some of the Duke of Marlborough’s campaign maps from the War of Spanish Succession.

There will also be porcelain and paintings from the Palace of Versailles, bought as souvenirs by the 5th Duke after the French Revolution, and the first African music ever to appear in the West, in 1688.

The exhibition, which will open during the House’s summer season in August, will also see the collaboration of Alzheimer’s Research UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy and other memory-related charities.

Paul Boucher, the exhibition’s curator, said: “Memory is essential to human experience and we have been assembling some of Boughton’s and the Buccleuch family’s most intriguing memories for our special exhibition this summer.

“Beginning in the House’s haunting unfinished wing, visitors can journey through the history of memory from Classical Greece to the modern era, before viewing artefacts from the Estate ranging from rare 17th century lute music from the Montagu Music Collection and musical memoirs of the 5th Duchess of Buccleuch, Queen Victoria’s Lady in Waiting, who is portrayed on TV by Dame Diana Rigg. We also tell the intriguing stories from forest to artist’s studio of Van Dyck’s portraits on wood.”

Special items on loan from Buccleuch’s Estates in Scotland include the 9th Duchess’s tiara and 1953 wedding dress designed by Hardy Amies.

Paul added: “One very poignant highlight will be the triptych painted by a German prisoner of war, returning to Boughton for the first time from the archives at the Eden Camp Modern History Museum. The Estate has many evocative war-time memories, and we’ll be sharing these through the eyes of 95 year old Captain Stanley Perry, who was stationed here as camp adjutant until 1947.”

Dr Karey Draper, an expert in wartime history and the country estate at the University of Cambridge, has helped unearth some of the House’s rich wartime history. She added: “Boughton House and its surrounding Estate contributed to the war effort on the Home Front in ways not experienced by other historic properties, and long after the war ended.

“Records show it began in August 1939 with its requisition as a treasure repository for the British Museum and other institutions, and went on to include the establishment of an aerodrome and arrival of billeted troops from 1941, before ending in 1948 when the last German prisoners of war vacated the Estate.

“We are very fortunate to still have with us Capt. Stan Perry, whose memories of Boughton during that period are incredibly detailed and illuminating. Boughton remains one of the more dramatic and illustrative examples of Britain’s wartime programme for its country estates.”

Boughton House and Gardens will open throughout August. Guided House tours will begin at 1pm, with the last tour at 3.30pm daily. Groups are welcome to visit by prior arrangement throughout the year.

During the summer opening, The Great Hall Tour, plus entry to the Gardens, Armoury and special exhibition costs £10 for adults, £8 for children and £30 for families (two adults and two children). Children under five go free.  The State Rooms tour is available for an extra £2.00 per person, while the Books, Beds and Beyond Tour is an additional £10 per person.

The Gardens will open throughout August between 12pm-5pm, with last entry at 4pm. Tickets cost £6 for adults, £3 for children and £14 for families (two adults and two children). As an added bonus, Gardens tickets holders will also gain access to the Armoury and the special exhibition.

To find out more, contact Boughton House on 01536 515 731 or email info@boughtonhouse.co.uk.

Visit Boughton on Facebook @BoughtonHouse or Instagram @boughton_house_official