As 2013 draws to a close we are taking the opportunity to look back at everything we have been up to this year, and to take a few moments from planning for 2014.
January: Snow came to Upton – and not for the first time in the year! In between shovelling snow off the roof, we were also busy preparing the Picture Gallery. Normally, this space is used to display our internationally important paintings collection. As repair work was needed on the roof, we were busy preparing the interior.
February: Whilst the Old Masters paintings were taken out of the Picture Gallery, we took the opportunity to hang them in the Squash Court exhibition space. We focussed on fewer pictures. The curator for the exhibition was David Taylor.
March: For Mothering Sunday, we created a 1930s beauty parlour in Upton House – a touch of glamour! With more snow arriving, we battled through and ended the month with Cadbury’s Easter Egg trails.
April: April should have seen some 4000 tulip bulbs come into flower. With all the snow they were delayed. So, for our tulip weekend, the indoor plants and the paper tulips that could be made in the Old Kitchen had all the attention!
May: Sunshine arrived! With it, came the beautiful blossom in the orchard as well as the somewhat delayed tulips on the south terraces. Work commenced on the Picture Gallery roof light, with scaffolding starting to arrive. With summer around the corner, we brought the ‘House Party’ alive once again with individuals donning 1930s eveningwear for the occasion in the Long Gallery.
June: In June we took a trip to Salisbury Museum and Avebury Manor with our volunteers to see one of our pictures in the Rex Whistler Exhibition at Salisbury Museum. We had great fun! We finished the month with a glorious sunny weekend with Warwick Boys’ School’s 80-piece orchestra playing on the lawn. Tremendous!
July: We had a lovely summer party for our volunteers with Pimms and croquet on the lawn. It was a lovely way to say thank you to all our volunteers for their hard work over the season. The rain made an interesting addition to our Jazz Concert, but didn’t put off huge numbers of people joining in the dancing on the lawn!
August: We had a great ‘Millionaire’s Weekend’ to kick off the month. With all the summer sunshine, the gardens were looking fabulous – especially Lady Bearsted’s garden. It was a riot of pinks and whites! The House Team got ‘hands on’ in the gardens and learnt how the Garden Team cares for the borders and keeps them looking great.
September: For the first time we launched a Country Pursuits theme in the house, including opening two new rooms. We used our archives for research and re-created hurdles along the drive, complete with large images of life in the 1930s at Upton. Towards the end of the month our new Lowry to Piper exhibition was launched. Using a fantastic volunteer research group we installed 16 paintings by 8 artists and explored the connection between Lord Bearsted and the Whitechapel Gallery. The National Aster Collection began to add shades of purple and white to our borders, and the blooms flourished into October.
October: Our wonderful Kitchen Garden produced an amazing array of pumpkins and squashes for Halloween. Lovely late autumn colours continued in the Bog Garden and along our Aster border. We had a Halloween trail over half term, and finished our main season with a Civil War camp.
November: Our oral history volunteer delivered a presentation to staff and volunteers at a coffee morning about ‘Kitty Lloyd Jones’ who worked in the gardens in the 1930s. The Garden Team came into the dry and warm for a few hours to help us clean porcelain in the Long Gallery. Finally, our new Picture Gallery roof light was completed! We are so pleased with the results and are looking forward to the Picture Gallery opening again next year.
December: A 1930s Christmas finally arrived at Upton, with 8 trees, over 4,700 visitors and many children visiting Father Christmas. It was a busy time! We still found time, of course, for a few Christmas lunches with our volunteers – a lovely opportunity to thank them for 2013 and to wish them all the best for 2014.
We wish you all best wishes for 2014, and hope to see you at Upton House and Gardens soon!