For the first time in over 30 years, Leeds Castle in Kent has launched new immersive displays to bring the Castle to life and introduce guests to one of the most sophisticated yet enigmatic female owners of the Castle.
The 1930s was an extraordinary period in human history. It was the decade when war was once again rearing its ugly head and a time that was heavily influenced by Hollywood’s fashion and glamour. Although much of the world during this time was caught up in the great depression, there were still glints of positivity, and one person who was able to find inspiration was Lady Olive Baillie, who made it her mission to transform Leeds Castle.
Fast forward 90 years and Leeds Castle has launched some new immersive displays that transport you back to the 1930s and takes you deep into the world of Lady Olive.
Helen Bonser-Wilton, Chief Executive Officer at Leeds Castle, said: “Lady Olive Baillie was passionate about design and reinvention and hosting lavish weekends for high profile friends. Even as the clouds of war gathered over Europe, the country house parties continued across luxurious retreats like Leeds Castle.
“This new experience will take visitors on an immersive voyage through the 1930s Castle with visitors getting up close and personal with original 1930s interiors and theatrical sets designed to feel like guests have just left the room. Compelling storytelling will bring the experience of above and below stairs to life.”
Anglo-American heiress Lady Olive Baillie transformed the Castle into one of the most desirable country houses of the 20th century. As a highly sought-after weekend retreat, Lady Baillie’s guests included Hollywood stars like Errol Flynn and David Niven, society’s finest, and leading politicians like Chips Channon and a young John. F. Kennedy, all of whom partied within the Castle’s walls.
The new experience presents guests with an unprecedented opportunity to step into the life of Lady Olive Baillie, seeing how she designed the stunning Castle with the help of leading French designers of the time, Armand-Albert Rateau and Stéphane Boudin.
Guests will join Lady Baillie’s quest to acquire the finest objects from some of the most famous Auction Houses and experience the hedonistic glamour of a 1930s salon’, where music, gambling, drinking, dancing and dangerous liaisons were the order of the day. An immersive ‘Aviary’ experience will showcase Lady Baillie’s love of birds.
Amidst this fun and frolics, guests will also get an insight into the lives of the servants of Leeds Castle, listening to their gossip as they go about their daily business under the watchful eye of their elusive mistress.
Sue Prichard, Head Curator at Leeds Castle, commented, “Leeds Castle is entering an exciting new phase of its 900-year history as we showcase the private world of Olive, Lady Baillie. Our seven-year development of new experiences at the Castle will ensure that there is always something new to see as we uncover new stories and different voices.
Fully immersive biennial exhibitions will include the transformation of the Castle during WWII and an exciting journey into the hedonistic counter-culture world of the country house in the 1960s.”
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