The ‘Know Our Place’ Project #3: Saving Whitehall

Mon 21-Nov-22

The ‘Know Our Place’ Project #3: Saving Whitehall

 

Welcome to the final destination on our journey through Whitehall Historic House and it’s ambition to push a dwelling loved by its community into the future. ‘Saving Whitehall’ is the closing stage, where we look at how the building will maintain itself for many years to come.

 

 

As we’ve seen in the first and second articles, Whitehall Historic House is no stranger to transformation. Over the course of several centuries it turned from a warehouse to a home, gaining a daring winding architecture in the process. Over a few short years it was refurbished as a museum, replacing a damp problem and intrusive 20th century fixtures with accessible ramps, a lift and a fully explorable attic. The freedom to be moulded and reshaped for multiple purposes is key to the building’s prolonged existence, as is its fearlessness to enter new fields.



So it should come as no surprise that it’s already entered cyberspace, having been entirely digitally recreated in 3D. Guests are able to take a free virtual trip through Whitehall’s walls through an internet browser, at any time and location of their choice. Sutton Council’s Cultural Services have filled the digital house with all sorts of informational tidbits and fun easter eggs to find like tudor characters hidden around corners. Continuing updates allows the house to stay relevant, transcending it’s physical presence into something more.



“The careful renovation and maintenance works has seen a major investment in Whitehall's future as a key cultural and community site in Cheam. The works have not only increased accessibility, with carefully designed extensions allowing for lift access to the 1st floor, they have also allowed the space to be more easily reinterpreted. Exhibitions from the residents and artist, and host of varied events and activities have turned Whitehall into a canvas for community and artists ambitions” - Will, Area Customer Services Manager, Whitehall Historic House

 

Whitehall Historic House garden

The scenic garden of Whitehall Historic House

 

The house has also become one of Sutton’s newest, officially licensed civil ceremony venues. The timber framed walls and lush gardens provide the most romantic and intimate settings for couples taking up their nuptials. With a more affordable price point than many other sites and architecture steeped in history, the revenue from ceremonies will help ensure it endures into the future. And the on-site cafe offers convenient food and drink options for bride and grooms to be. Brought into the building in late 2019, Freedom Caffe is an independent cafe specialising in the most delicious vegetarian and vegan food and drink. It adheres to the Lifegate CO2 Zero Impact standards aiding in sustainability for the planet.



Accessibility is an important facet of Whitehall Historic House, with more efforts being made globally to allow those living with a disability to enjoy experiences like everyone else. During the Know Our Place project an audio description tour and visual guide have become available, explaining how to navigate the house and exhibits on display. While these are available for all, they’re especially helpful to those with sight loss or cognitive difficulties. A book was also produced called ‘At Home In Whitehall’, in collaboration with Sutton Mencap, a local charity which works to improve the lives of people with a learning disability and their carers. Sutton Mencap’s members contributed their interpretations of Whitehall’s objects, creating an alternative guide to the house and a tangible product they could feel proud of. And there have been a number of SEND-friendly events such as quiet open days, mystery object handling, sensory theatre and interactive makaton performances.

 

A class trip of school children looking upon the model of Nonsuch Palace

A class trip of school children looking upon the model of Nonsuch Palace

 

Whitehall Historic House utilises a plentiful and thriving network of volunteers to help operate its various events and give behind-the-scenes access to its inner workings. It’s a great and easy opportunity to get experience or get social with friendly like-minded people (anyone interested in volunteering can apply here). Thanks to that bedrock of community help, the building will continue to be a space where tomorrow’s artists can have a platform to display their creations to the world.



Despite the National Lottery Heritage Fund coming to an end in 2021, Whitehall Historic House continues to do more and be more for its community. It’s not just limited to arts and events but can turn itself to facilitate a range of uses. From hosting product showrooms, to private networking functions, to fitness classes in the gardens - not bad for a 500 year old house.

 


 

Find out more about Whitehall Historic House and book your place now to visit the building or attend an event.