Spotlight: The Admiral's Room at Berrington Hall

Exterior of National Trust Property Berrington Hall, Herefordshire, UK.


Berrington Hall is a fine country house located about 3 miles north of Leominster, Herefordshire, England. In April 2022 the Hall’s Admiral’s Room was cleared out and reclaimed for use in showcasing 5 exquisite replica mantua dresses as part of an extension to their ‘A Dress Fit for a King’ exhibition. Absolute’s barrier products were selected by Derw Thomas, House & Collections Manager at Berrington, to protect this remarkable exhibit.

When you have five remarkable replica court mantua dresses to display, only a space such as the Admiral’s Room will suffice.

Recently reclaimed and opened to the public for the very first time the Admiral’s Room along with two other first floor rooms at Berrington Hall now serve as the perfect setting to tell the story of the life of Ann Harley, wife to Thomas Harley, who built Berrington Hall in around 1783.

‘A Dress Fit for A King’ exhibition protected by Absolute Freestanding Barriers at Berrington Hall, Herefordshire, UK.

The exhibition, ‘A Dress Fit for a King’, was inspired by the chance discovery of Ann’s court mantua dress (pictured below) back in 2016 and subsequently bought at auction. The dress is likely to have been worn at the court of King George III, most likely whilst her husband, Thomas, was Lord Mayor of London (1767 to 1768).

The deconstructed mantua dress arrived at Berrington Hall in 10 pieces. To understand its construction and structure, the Team at Berrington commissioned Michelle Barker, of The Georgian Costume Company & Handbound Costumes, to make a replica, before their own conservators then carefully reconstructed the original.

The back of a floral and gold detailed dress, part of ‘A Dress Fit for a King’ exhibition at Berrington Hall, Herefordshire, UK.

Whilst studying Ann’s 18th century dress, Michelle embarked on a deeper study of how this particular style of dress changed over time, examining court mantuas from museums around the UK such as The Victoria and Albert Museum, Fashion Museum Bath and Historic Royal Palaces.

The result of this study can now be seen in her additional five replica dresses, dating from the early 1700s to the 1770s, which are all on display in the Admiral’s Room at Berrington Hall as an extension to their ‘A Dress Fit for a King’ Exhibition, giving visitors a fascinating timeline of how the style evolved over the decades from the era of Queen Anne to King George III. 

The back of a cream Mantua dress, part of ‘A Dress Fit for a King’ exhibition at Berrington Hall, Herefordshire, UK.
Two cream Mantua dresses in the ‘A Dress Fit for a King’ exhibition at Berrington Hall.

To protect the dresses in a complimentary manner, the Team at Berrington Hall chose the Absolute Freestanding Barrier 400mm in black with black Elasticated Cord. This choice for the exhibit creates a visually quiet moment and feels tailored with the dresses. The black barriers in combination with the cream mantua dresses give a buttoned up tailored feel to the space, reminiscent of a ball room with ladies in dresses and men in black ties.

Used in such a way here the barriers and cord complement the exhibition without over-powering. For more intimate exhibits, think of the barrier products as part of the exhibit, not just protecting it. This will allow them to support the over-all aesthetic effect as well as protecting valuable objects and artworks.

In addition, black barriers absorb light rather than reflect it in the way that other finishes, such as stainless steel, will making them more suited to heritage spaces & historical environments.

Lastly, opting for a freestanding barrier system, rather than a floor mounted barrier system, will provide flexibility in a space where the exhibition and layout will need to change frequently, as well as provide a solution that will not mark or impact the floor surface in any way, important in historic buildings.

Two cream Mantua dresses in the ‘A Dress Fit for a King’ exhibition at Berrington Hall, protected by black Absolute Freestanding Barriers and cord.

Derw Thomas, House and Collections Manager at Berrington Hall, said:

“From when we first staged this exhibition, we wanted it to have a clean and slick feel. These barriers and cords were a real find and the perfect complement to the exhibits and interpretation in our first floor rooms”.

We, at Absolute have a love for our cultural heritage and appreciation of the stewardship of these fine properties and so it was our pleasure to provide products to assist Derw in bringing Berrington Hall’s Admiral’s Room to life and protecting their exhibits.


The exhibition is open to visitors every day until Sunday 2nd November, during Berrington Hall’s opening hours of 11am – 5pm (last entry at 4pm).

For more information, please visit


Find out more about the product solutions chosen by Berrington Hall.

View Project Profile

Related Links:

Project Profile: The Admiral's Room at Berrington Hall

Michelle Barker, of Handbound Costumes & The Georgian Costume Company: /

'A Dress Fit for a King' at Berrington Hall:


Image Sources: Derw Thomas (House & Collections Manager at Berrington Hall) and the National Trust website.

Posted by Jade Turner
4th August 2022

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