Stepping into the past is made easier at attraction

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VISITORS can get closer to the past than ever before at a Northumberland attraction.

Wallington, near Cambo, is offering more opportunities for people to learn about its past and the Trevelyan family who lived there in two new initiatives.

House and collections manager Lloyd Langley with the new 'carpet' at Wallington Hall

House and collections manager Lloyd Langley with the new 'carpet' at Wallington Hall

The National Trust, which manages the estate, is providing greater access to rooms, as well as special tours for visitors to explore the cellars and attics and learn more about the collections from conservation experts.

Events Manager Julie Thomson said: “We have done a lot of work in changing how we present the rooms to enable people to get inside them, walk around and get up close to the different objects in them.

“It is challenging because we are a conservation charity and we need to protect all of the objects and furniture, but at the same time people really want to get a sense of the rooms and feel connected to the people who used to live and work there.”

State-of-the-art technology is being used to open up the rooms

Original carpets have been scanned in very high resolution and then copies printed out on special material and laid on top.

They have been installed in the drawing room and library to allow the ropes to be removed and people to step into the rooms without fear of damaging the originals.

Ms Thomson said: “They are such incredible copies that they look like the real carpets.

“It is only when you touch them that they feel different, it is a little bit like a fabric mouse mat.

“The volunteers ask children to straighten the tassels and it is only then that they realise it’s different.

“It has been done in different properties before, but it is a first for us and it is probably on a different scale here because they are such large rooms.

“The great thing about it is that people can now get into the rooms. It has enabled us to look at the rooms and change how they are set out so they look and feel a lot more like the family rooms that they were. It is as if the Trevelyans have just stepped out.

“We have focussed on the ground floor initially, but there is a project to look at the whole house and how we set out and present the story that weaves through the visit.”

While the grounds of the estate are open seven days a week, the house has traditionally been closed on Tuesdays.

However, the trust is now organising pre-booked afternoon tours for small numbers of visitors. People can get closer to the collections and find out how conservation experts keep them in good order.

“We have one day a week when the house has been closed for conservation work, but we thought it would be great if we could open up in a small way for pre-booked visits so people who have a particular interest in the collections and want to come behind the scenes can experience something quite different,” said Ms Thompson.

“Now people can get to spend time with the conservation team who look after the exhibits, books and paintings, and find out how they care for them.

“We have always done the cleaning before we opened, but people are absolutely fascinated by it.”

The tours include a 1940s afternoon tea and cost £15 per person, in addition to normal admission charges.

For more information or to book a tour call 01670 773600 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington