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National Trust in Spring

PUBLISHED: 00:24 28 February 2012 | UPDATED: 21:06 20 February 2013

Photo by National Trust

Photo by National Trust

The herald of spring brings with it a brand new season for The National Trust as it reopens its doors to the public once more. Emma Ward looks at some of the glories on offer in Standen.

Visitors who have waited for the warmer weather to return can now come along to see the restoration, cataloguing and maintenance work that we have been doing inside our houses across East and West Sussex over the winter, not to mention the gardening and preparation for spring that has taken place in the grounds. You might even be able to see the first flowers of spring, as primroses, snowdrops and the first of the daffodils come into welcome bloom.


Bulb bonanza We know how much our visitors love our colourful spring garden at Standen in East Grinstead, so we spent a long time last year planting more than 10,000 new tulip bulbs in our garden, that will bloom in vibrant colour around late March and into April. We are also very proud of our bluebell woods seen at their bright blue best later on in the spring, but the plants will have already started to poke their leaves and buds above the woodland floor in preparation by now.


Curiosity cured? Inside Standen, our team has worked hard over the winter months to bring our visitors ever-changing displays and artefacts to astonish and amuse. This spring, we are proud to bring you our unique Cabinets of Curiosities exhibition that showcases our curatorial teams very favourite artworks, ornaments and heirlooms from the house and its archives. This is a rare opportunity to see items normally kept in storage, all of which are surrounded by fascinating stories. The exhibition runs at Standen between Wednesday 29 February and Sunday 13 May (check online for opening days and times).


Many of the items on show in this exhibition were given to us very recently by the estate of the late Phyllis Wager, who died last year at the grand age of 99. She was the granddaughter of wealthy solicitor, James Beale and his wife, Margaret, who had the house built, furnished and decorated in the 1890s by well-known Arts & Crafts period names including Philip Webb and William Morris.


One particularly interesting artefact from this collection is a blue and white quilted bedspread, handmade by Phyllis mother, Amy (the eldest daughter of James and Margaret) in the 1920s/30s. Another highlight is an ivory silk wedding dress worn by Phyllis grandmother, Margaret at her wedding in 1870. This, along with the quilt, will form the centrepiece of the exhibition.


Mums the word All this attention on early spring flowers, wedding dresses and family heirlooms makes Standen the ideal destination for one of this months key dates: Mothering Sunday, taking place this year on 18 March. Why not bring your mum to see Phyllis Wagers delightful belongings, then take her for a wander in the hillside gardens or perhaps a walk across our woodland estate? And dont forget to stop for some lunch in our restaurant and a browse round the plant shop or gift shop, crammed with beautiful William Morris books and Arts & Crafts-inspired souvenirs before you go home - brownie points will be pretty much guaranteed!


The Trust is looking forward to welcoming you to our West Sussex Arts & Crafts showhouse, Standen this month. Opening days and times vary: visit our website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/standen

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