Gallery: Sneak peek at restored Rainham Hall as it prepares to open to public
PUBLISHED: 17:24 06 October 2015 | UPDATED: 17:24 06 October 2015
An 18th century manor upheld as one of the country’s finest surviving examples of a Georgian merchant’s home has opened to the public for the first time.
Rainham Hall, owned by the National Trust, is being unveiled today (Wednesday) following a £2.5million redevelopment programme painstakingly carried out over the last two years.
The attraction, shaped by the insights of residents, groups and even art students, tells the tale of its sea-faring founder John Harle.
Ed Ikin, manager of the site, in Broadway, Rainham, said: “Rainham Hall will be a thriving hub at the heart of village life.
“A place for people to meet, for new art to be created and for families to learn together.
Gallery: Rainham Hall
Staircase inside Rainham Hall
Map of the Thames Estuary
Entrance to Rainham Hall
Volunteer Linda Vaughan and the hall's manager Ed Ikin
Coins from the 18th century featuring in a game like Snakes and Ladders
Carvings made from coal
John Harle's last will and testament, which was donated to Rainham Hall
Objects loaned to Rainham Hall by the National Maritime Museum
Replica dress from the 18th century, made by volunteers imagining what Harle's wife could have worn on her wedding day
A miniature replica of a Collier bulk cargo ship, made by the Romford Model Engineering Clubs John Miller
“The experience within the hall will be fresh, creative and regularly evolving. We’ll draw inspiration from the lives of our past residents to tell great stories.”
The Grade II*-listed site was built in 1729 by Harle, part of a family of sea merchants in north-east England, who shipped coal, food and other goods around the Baltic and the Mediterranean.
The owner and his era have been brought to life through features such as a miniature replica of a Collier bulk cargo ship, made by Romford Model Engineering Club’s John Miller, a re-imagining of Lloyd’s Coffee House, which Harle would have frequently visited for naval networking and gossip, and sound installations recorded by youngsters, of nursery rhymes, sea shanties and songs which would have been familiar to the merchant as he grew up along the Durham coastline.
Opening times for the hall, which also boasts a garden and the Stables Cafe, vary, but it is generally available Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/rainham-hall.