Step back in time to when stately home was a bank

The Long Gallery in Upton House, which was converted into a bank during the Second World War NNL-150217-100640001
The Long Gallery in Upton House, which was converted into a bank during the Second World War NNL-150217-100640001

Visitors to Upton House will be able to take a step back in time to 1939 when a bank moved into the house to 
escape the worst of the 
Second World War.

A team of National Trust volunteers and staff have been working to recreate the bank to give an insight into what life was like for bank staff during the war.

In September 1939, when Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced Britain was at war with Germany, the owner of Upton House – the Bearsteds – moved out and the family-owned merchant bank in London, M Samuel & Co, moved in.

Twelve rooms will be recreated to show where bank staff slept in shared dormitories. A bus took staff into Banbury at the weekends, with each supplied with Wellington boots for trips into the countryside, while Land Girls tended the gardens and lived in the stables. Rachael O’Connor-Boyd, Upton House collections manager, said: “It promises to be a story not only of life in wartime Britain, but also of courage, intrigue, ingenuity and classic British make-do and mend.”

As well as historical research, volunteers have found original sewing patterns from the period and have sourced thousands of original objects such as ration-books, toothpaste and wartime toilet roll.