Volunteers get a taste of life ‘below stairs’

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VOLUNTEERS are in training for the new visitor experience at Ickworth House, in Horringer.

The Ickworth Lives project is part of the £2.4 million renovation of the servants basement which opens to the public on March 3.

The experience aims to show people what it was like to live as a servant at the house from 1911 to 1935.

Food historian Ivan Day, who has worked on the Great British Bake Off and the Manor Reborn, has been training the volunteers how to make a range of foods cooked at the time.

On Sunday, he showed them how to make foods the servants would eat, including rabbit pie, steak and kidney pudding, caraway seed biscuits, rock cakes and cabbage gratin.

Ickworth Lives project manager Jonathan Rhodes said: “It is a project that goes back eight years. In the last three years we have started the main construction phase of the project based around the restoration of the basement of Ickworth House.

“We are restoring 28 rooms and corridors under the East and West wings, telling the stories of the people who worked there using archived material.”

On the open days, the house will be full of volunteers, including performing arts students at West Suffolk College and the East 15 acting school at Essex University, all fully dressed in period clothing.

The Ickworth sewing circle is currently creating more than 30 costumes for the grand opening.

Jonathan said: “We will have butlers, floormen, cooks and kitchen and scullery maids.

“The cooks will all be preparing the food taught to them by Ivan Day.

“We have been incredibly lucky to get him as instructor and teacher and that is reflected in the quality of the cooking.

“The preparation has been excellent and this project has been a long time coming.”