"More of a room than an object (!), but I like the safe, nestled under the staircase and next to the cellar door. I like to imagine what has been locked away in there by different owners and custodians of West Horsley Place. In my mind, wine was kept in the cellar, and whisky was kept in the safe, along with money, treasures, treasure maps, miniature unicorns, and so on."


For hundreds of years West Horsley Place has been the home (or country retreat) of members of England’s nobility, and as such has housed objects of great value. Whilst many of these can no longer be found inside the manor house, the shadows of this history are still present and provide a glimpse into a world of great wealth, elegance and glamour. The ‘favourite of the week’ for this week comes from Yendle Barwise, our Environment and Sustainability Manager. Yendle spends a lot of his time out on our large estate, however his interests also lie within the small, hidden spaces of the house that can easily be missed. Yendle has chosen our fascinating strong room with intimidating steel door, located in the wine cellar beneath the grand staircase. Once home to the silver of the families residing in the house, its concrete walls and seemingly impenetrable steel door reflect the value of the objects locked away inside. Kept in a part of the house away from prying eyes or opportunistic burglars, the small room is sealed by a steel door with four inch-thick bolts that are driven into the surrounding frame with a turn of the handle. Excitingly this door still functions, a testament to the impressive build quality and robustness of its design. Whilst there is no date to be found on the door, it bears the mark of the Chubb & Son’s Lock and Safe Company Limited. A family operation run by Jeremiah and Charles Chubb, ironmongers from Portsmouth, the company initially specialised in manufacturing locks. In 1818, the company entered a government competition to create an unpickable lock with its ‘detector lock’ design. This lock was highly successful, and remained unpicked until the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was also at the exhibition that the Koh-i-Noor diamond was exhibited, displayed in a special case designed by Chubb & Sons. Their products became the first choice for members of the Royal Family, the Post Office, HM Prison Service and the Bank of England. The company grew through its success, and from 1837 was manufacturing burglar-resistant strongroom doors at their London factory on Cowcross Street. It is possible that our door was manufactured here. Whilst we do not have a specific date for the installation of our door, this may one day be revealed as work continues to catalogue and understand the documents stored in our archive. 

PLEASE NOTE: Images are staged to show valuables.