National Trust

Stourhead and Montacute House

  • Role Designer
  • Date 2015
  • Type Print, interpretation and signage design

Stourhead - Harry's Story

Whilst at Gendall Design, Stourhead, one of the National Trusts largest country estates commissioned us to create an engaging and unique interpretation of ‘Harry’s story’, a tale of extremes, love and devastation, triumph over adversity, neglect and recovery.

The brief was to create Interpretation signage which could be rolled out across the Stourhead estate, ensuring as many visitors as possible left with some recognition/learning of this key period in Stourheads’ long history. Interventions needed to be in the right place, be considerate of the environment, be durable and have longevity.

A wax seal was designed to be a key component of the storytelling themed identity. Diaries, letters and writing were at the core of all the National Trust know about Harry and his story. This seal was used as a signifier to represent the interpretation that it featured on as part of Harry’s story. The typographic H was inspired by nature and the flora and fauna of the Stourhead landscape.

The first element of interpretation visitors would experience was a giant 3D book at the visitor reception, used to introduce the story.

Inspired by story book illustration and letter writing, layered scenes were created to represent key parts of the story

Inspired by story book illustration and letter writing, layered scenes were created to represent key parts of the story.

Personalised for each application, all scenes feature a story book style illustration, a black and white archive image and a section of old paper featuring a handwritten account from the dairy of Alda, Harrys mother. All of the elements work together to visually depict the part of the story it is communicating. They are accompanied by postal marks, wax seals and a coloured block, with all elements overlaid creating a composition with visual depth.

For example, this illustration depicts Harry’s playful side and fondness for helping the community by catching rabbits on the estate and donating them to locals.

Scene depicting Alda’s hospitality whilst in recovery / Scene depicting the fire and belongings out on the lawn

The story was further brought to life through a series of engaging large scale interpretation pieces, across a variety of sites on the historic estate. These included:

  • Wooden way finding markers throughout the gardens, etched with the Harrys Story seal

  • Bespoke shelving holding replica diaries full of actual personal accounts of Harry’s upbringing from the original diaries of his mother

  • Bespoke shelving for visitors to share their own memories of their visit

  • A large scale illustrated timeline

  • Information cards within each room of the main house

Large scale illustrated timeline

Canvas signage boards

Montacute House

Montacute House of the National Trust commissioned Gendall Design, with myself as the lead designer, to produce a visual identity and a style guide for the property.

Illustrative detail came from decorative details that feature throughout the house and the stone carvings within the gardens

The house had an abundance of unique architectural features, which helped to create an identifiable set of icons and shapes that depict the character and history of the property. Icons and symbols were taken from architectural details found inside the house and the garden also had a host of unusual and recognisable features which helped to give a sense of scale and grandeur to the property identity.

Poster and leaflet designs with a dark imposing colour palette to reinforce the theme

The theme ‘A splendid lantern in the landscape’ used a darker, more imposing colour palette for house applications and a lighter, reversed palette for gardens and grounds. Features shine out of the dark, bringing them to the forefront with a bold and imposing use of colour and shapes. There was a focus on the strong shapes and patterns created within the house and textures were introduced to give the designs a sense of age and a tactile approach and emphasise the detailed features throughout the property, using scale to create a sense of grandeur. Visually there was a strong contrast between simplicity of the house and complexity of the details.

Poster and leaflet designs with a lighter, reversed colour palette for the gardens and grounds

Room plans, laser cut into bleached wooden panels and external signage hung on ironwork around the property