“A haunt of ancient peace” is how Tennyson described the tranquillity of Gunby Estate, Hall and Gardens, a quintessential small English country estate, now in the care of the National Trust. Built in 1700, Gunby and its gardens at the foot of the Lincolnshire Wolds, was home to the Massingberd family until 1967. The Massingberds had many fascinating friends, from Rudyard Kipling, Charles Darwin and the Wedgwoods, to Virginia Woolf, Edward Lear and Ralph Vaughan Williams, and the collection in the house reflects this. In 2018 visitors will discover the story of Emily Langton Massingberd, 19th century heiress of Gunby Estate, Hall and Gardens, and active political and social campaigner who fought tirelessly for the improvement of women’s rights as a suffragist, paving the way for those who came after her.
As part of The National Trust’s 2018 year-long celebration of Women and Power, marking the centenary of female suffrage, Gunby Hall and Gardens has invited CommonAs, a cultural collective creating projects that respond to sites of social heritage, to explore Emily’s inspirational life. Founder of the first female members’ club, The Pioneer Club, social campaigner and ardent temperance activist Emily Langton Massingberd’s mark can still be seen around the Gunby Estate today.
For In Another Place CommonAs present an image inspired by Emily’s founding of the ground-breaking Pioneer Club, her passionate belief in temperance and the Gunby legend of her lecturing her tenantry on the evils of drink from a boat moored on the estate’s ice house pond. The image connects to Pioneer, an installation CommonAs are creating for Gunby’s Orchard Gallery with the participation of a range of contributing artists and National Trust volunteers and staff. In the spirit of Emily, Pioneer, will be a series of installed artworks made to celebrate, entertain, engage and prompt questions. It will offer the visitor the opportunity to consider her unconventionality, energy and motivations. It will incorporate references to the Pioneer Club, Emily’s capacity for subversion and her time at Gunby, created in an intriguing mix of neon, mirror, photography and handcrafted seating, and will include recipe ideas for temperance inspired mocktails created by Gunby volunteers. The installation will be open to the public during August 2018.
Gunby Hall and Garden’s billboard will be located in Nottingham. CommonAs hope that it will stimulate interest in the project and the National Trust’s year of Women and Power, and raise awareness of this beautiful property and the remarkable life of Emily Langton Massingberd.