The scheme at Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens in Northamptonshire - entitled ‘Tunnelling through the Past’ - has conserved the former stable yard, laundries and the servants’ areas in the basement of the house.
Thanks to a £1.3 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and funding from Daventry District Council grant scheme, along with the charity’s own fundraising efforts, the history of the lives of the servants at the hall will now be showcased to visitors.
Nottingham-based Focus Consultants, which specialises in delivering high quality heritage projects across the UK, has been involved with the project from the end of 2015 until completion, undertaking a project management role.
Project manager at Focus Jo Hardwicke said: “The main opening of this exciting new interactive visitor experience will be on 1st April 2018, when the hall reopens to the general public, but there will be an exclusive preview of the spaces next month as part of the National Lottery ‘Thank You’ week to lottery players, when Kelmarsh Hall holds a Christmas Fair on 17th December.
“As a company, Focus has wide experience of conservation, restoration and other projects within the heritage sector, and we have been thrilled to have played a role in conserving and opening up these previously inaccessible areas at Kelmarsh Hall to give the public a glimpse into the history of the servants who lived behind the scenes at this wonderful hall.”
Currently just the main living spaces in the grand Grade I listed hall are open to visitors, and guided tours provide in-depth insight into the history of its famed past residents, such as designer Nancy Lancaster. But following the conservation project, undertaken by contractor Stone Edge, and after the introduction of the latest technologies, a full sensory experience of what life was like for those who formerly worked and lived at the property will be available. Tablet devices will help visitors to interpret the rooms in detail, whilst augmented reality will bring the spaces to life with period characters appearing to tell their story.
Lesley Denton, general manager for the Kelmarsh Trust said: “The conservation of the laundry and basement which are connected by a fantastically preserved tunnel has been a long road. It has been over six years from my first meeting with the HLF to the handover of the capital works by Stone Edge. The Kelmarsh Trust has been so fortunate to work with each and every one of the professionals involved, from our accountants and architects to the designers and interpretation experts. However, none of it would have been dealt with so professionally if we had not appointed Focus Consultants as our project managers. Jo and Steve have ensured we got where we are today by solving the problems, and there have been some, in a reassuring and effective manner. I cannot thank them enough.”
Focus, which has its headquarters at Phoenix Business Park, Nottingham, and branches in London, Leicester and Boston in Lincolnshire, offers a range of services, which include securing funding packages and project management. Since its creation in 1994, Focus has helped to secure more than £953 million of grant assistance for a range of projects and businesses across the UK and delivered more than £1.3 billion of projects and programmes – making it one of the most successful companies of its kind.
Focus also offers a range of services to the property and construction industry, including building surveying, quantity surveying, project management, and sustainable development support.
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