Sunday, 26 September 2021

Show’s inspired by childhood memoir

Show’s inspired by childhood memoir

A NEW exhibition at Greys Court is set to turn the National Trust property in to a haven of children’s adventures for the summer holidays — inspired by Lady Brunner’s childhood.

“Once Upon a Time: Stories from Lady Brunner’s Childhood” brings to life the childhood world of Elizabeth Irving before she became Lady Brunner of Greys Court.

Elizabeth was a theatrical child and the rooms in the house and garden at Greys Court will be filled with the drama and imagination of her favourite childhood stories — including Alice in Wonderland, Oliver Twist, Peter Pan and the tales of Beatrix Potter.

Having achieved fame as an actress, Lady Brunner documented her childhood memories in a book, Child of the Theatre, which opens with the words: “We do not remember childhood — we imagine it. We search for it in vain through layers of obscuring dust.”

Greys Court’s house and collections manager Lizzie Champion and her team drew on Child of the Theatre to design the display.

“I read the book closely in an attempt to bring to life Elizabeth’s imagination,” said Lizzie. “She was extremely imaginative and creative and the scenes you will see at Greys Court this summer try and capture this in an evocative and dreamlike way.” Visitors will meet Tango and Rag Time, Elizabeth’s pet mice, in a replica of the giant fort built for them by her brother Laurence. The dining room will be transformed into a dream-like Wonderland with a Mad Hatter’s tea party set up on the table and the Cheshire Cat fading in and out on the ceiling.

Elizabeth’s close relationship with her mother and father will also be explored through the stories of Peter Pan and Oliver Twist in the bedrooms, along with her path to true love with Sir Felix John Morgan Brunner.

She married Sir Felix in 1926 and moved to Greys Court in the summer of 1937. Lady Brunner gave up the stage after her marriage and threw her energies into raising her four boys in the family home, in which she lived until her death aged 98 in 2003.

The exhibition, which opened on Monday, runs until Sunday, October 28. For more information, visit www.nationaltrust.

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