Recognition for National Trust venue near Banbury

Collections and engagement manager Michelle Leake and Upton House general manager Julie Smith pick up the award for Banking for Victory from National Trust chairman Tim Parker. NNL-160219-104806001
Collections and engagement manager Michelle Leake and Upton House general manager Julie Smith pick up the award for Banking for Victory from National Trust chairman Tim Parker. NNL-160219-104806001

Upton House and Gardens near Banbury has won a major award for its Banking for Victory recreation.

It takes visitors back in time to when the property went from country house to a fully operational wartime merchant bank and was voted the top attraction in the Exhibitions and Programming category at the National Trust’s Everything Speaks conference and awards ceremony.

Julie Smith, general manager at Upton House, said: “I’m thrilled that the painstaking research, the authenticity and attention to detail of the Banking for Victory experience and the hard work of staff and volunteers has been recognised with this prestigious award.”

The recreation was opened by Great British Bake Off favourite Mary Berry in March last year, and since then visitors have been able to immerse themselves in life in the country house bank by sitting at desks in the Long Gallery and typing a letter, reading minutes from meetings, and watching or getting involved as volunteers knitting and sewing period garments.

They have also been able to enjoy delicious food cooked on the AGA, sit on beds and read vintage magazines in the dormitories and much more besides.

Wartime dishes have been on sale and on tours visitors have learned about the bank, the house and the fascinating Bearsted family.

The recreation has seen a team of 80 volunteers closely involved in researching everything from wartime bank statements to typewriters through to beauty treatments and wartime rations.

Twelve rooms have been recreated to present a compelling picture of what life was like for the bank staff as war raged. Everything has been considered, from period hair and make-up to the fashions and interior design styles of the 1940s.

Tony Berry, visitor experience director at the National Trust, said: “Heartiest congratulations to all our deserving winners for their achievements. In a highly competitive field of nominations, these winners all stood out for the quality of their ideas and execution. Brilliantly done!”

Upton House is open from 1-5pm every day except Thursdays from February 13 until the end of October. Winter opening hours then apply.

Banking for Victory runs until January 2017.