How important is it to have our own private space? Do you have a particular room or space that represents the person you are, or how you like to live?

These were the questions that were asked in the formulation of an exhibition called ‘A Space of One’s Own’ at the Museum of Cambridge (then the Folk Museum) back in 2009. Based on photographs by Alexandra Murphy, interviews and text by Jane Phillimore and curated by Tamsin Wimhurst, the exhibition explored these questions through a series of ‘portraits’. The exhibition, held over ten years ago, is never far from our minds, as it is through researching for that exhibition that Tamsin Wimhurst first met Elsie Palmer and discovered the work of her grandfather, David Parr. A chance encounter that eventually led to the foundation of the David Parr House charity.

With the unexpected closure of the house due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, this tale recounted on every public tour by our house guides has fallen temporarily silent. However, confined to our homes, surrounded by our ‘things’, and with plenty of time for reflection, a vibrant conversation about a space of one’s own has never seemed more pertinent.

Returning to our roots, our 2020 edition of the exhibition begins with Elsie’s contribution to the original exhibition and revisits portraits by Shelley and David, both of who have an enduring relationship with the House. Their contributions are joined by a series of poignant new portraits by individuals who are connected to the house in a multitude of ways. One of the joys of the working at the David Parr House is the contact that it brings with so many fascinating people, many of them revealing hidden talents and stories along the way, some of which can be glimpsed through the exhibition. And while currently we cannot welcome visitors into the David Parr House, it is a privilege to be allowed instead into their personal spaces and hear their answers to our questions.

Charlotte Woodley
Pilgrim Trust Curator
David Parr House