Behind closed doors at Knightshayes

PUBLISHED: 08:41 26 February 2014 | UPDATED: 08:43 26 February 2014

Artist impression of kitchen - Jo Mortimer

Artist impression of kitchen - Jo Mortimer


From Saturday 1 March, the public are being given the chance to see behind closed doors at Knightshayes on the outskirts of Tiverton; as previously unseen kitchen areas are being opened up for the first time in over forty years.

Some of the areas being shown in the servant’s wing, known as the East Wing, have been shut off from the public since the house came into the care of the National Trust in 1972. Much of the space was converted into a two storey flat for Lady Joyce Amory, the championship winning golfer and last member of the family to live at Knightshayes; and when she died it was used for staff accommodation until the beginning of 2013.

Now the Trust have decided to revert some of the space back to its original use, and show another side of life at Knightshayes – that of the servants.

Sara Currant, House Manager at Knightshayes, said: ‘It’s been a really exciting project for us here, particularly in the last few weeks, as the stud walls put in by the Trust in the 1970s have started to been taken down. The space now feels totally different, and you can really start to get a feel of how many staff they had and of the lives they lived.

‘We also uncovered some really amazing 1970s wallpaper in the servant’s corridor, which we’re assuming was put up by the family at some point and has since been painted over by the Trust – it’s not exactly Victorian gothic, so not in keeping with the house, but really goes to show the changes the house has been through over the years.’

This year, for the first time, visitors will have the chance to see the Servery, the Butler’s Pantry and, eventually, the Housekeeper’s Office will also be on view. The spaces will remain empty while the property team continue to raise money to do the restoration work and decide exactly how the spaces should be presented.

Sara added: ‘We asked the public what they wanted to see last year, and a restored Burges kitchen and a 1930’s kitchen are currently competing neck and neck. All we know is we would like it to be a space that can be used. The kitchen would have been the heart and soul of the house, and we’d love to see it being used like that again.’

The space will be open daily from the 1 March for the rest of the season (continued building works allowing) and the Knightshayes team would love to know how you feel the space should be presented

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