Whilst in Margate this weekend I also visited The Walpole Bay Hotel Museum & Napery.
This lovely old hotel in the Cliftonville area of Margate, is just a few minutes from The Turner Contemporary Gallery and Margate’s arty, vintage quarter in the Old Town.
This hotel is a 1920s grand dame of aged splendour, complete with wonderful gated lift.
But aside from it’s accommodation this hotel is also a museum!
It is full to the brim of fascinating objects, many used originally in the hotel, others donated by residents.
The foyer is full of lovely furniture and objects as well as several display cases of smaller items. But the main museum is on the 2nd floor. The corridors that wind their way round the lovely old fashioned gated lift, are full to the brim of seemingly randomly placed objects. They are actually grouped in some instances, with many of the defunct bathrooms, scullery etc used as tiny display rooms.
This museum is curated in the Victorian style of overexuberant collecting. Every corner, display case and wall is covered in some object or photograph, print, painting or shop sign.
It resembles a magical junk shop and it’s hard not to rummage through as you can access the items so easily.
This museum was delightful in it’s over nostalgic way and I’m sure that the hotel guests thoroughly enjoy reliving their childhoods or earlier visits to the town.
But the museum and decor of this hotel are not the only treasures.
It also has a Napery.
I know, what is a Napery, I hear you ask?
Napery is the collective noun for household linen, in particular tablecloths & napkins.
The Walpole has a collection of napkin art!
I wondered if it would be doodles on paper napkins or origami folded napkins? Like swans and such…
But no. The walls of the restaurant and the 1st floor are covered in framed linen napkins that guests & visitors have used as their canvas. There are some drawings, paintings, poetry, prints, appliqué, embroidery and all sorts of variations of the above with all manner of media used.
The most famous artist on display is no doubt, Margate native, Tracey Emin. She has had many years of association with The Walpole and has contributed in many ways. There are t-shirts, books as well as some of her drawings & napkins on show in the restaurant.
There are even some of Tracey’s more explicit work on display, covered by a very polite warning notice.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Walpole and all of it’s treasures and look forward to visiting again, perhaps for a cream tea on the verandah watching the sunset, gorgeous!
I also couldn’t resist asking for a napkin. Now to create work on it that might be worthy of gracing The Walpole Bay Hotel walls.
I feel some paper boats stitched on to an image of Margate harbour coming on…
But then there were all those gorgeous cases dotted around…none more beautifully evocative than this one, containing past residents booking cards…
It looks like a case full of unsent loveletters. Beautiful in it’s simplicity.
It was the last thing I saw, tucked in a corner like a secret…
Watch this space for work inspired by this visit.
PS: The hotel is providing artist in residence stays for published authors, please see details on their website’s front page. Enjoy your stay!