IT IS famous around the world for its priceless collection of classic cars and vintage motorbikes.

But one of Hampshire's top attractions is going back to its roots by drawing up plans to unveil a crowd-pleaser of a more domestic nature.

The National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, has embarked on a project to restore the Victorian kitchen at Palace House, ancestral home of the Montagu family.

The kitchen was an early casualty of the previous Lord Montagu's quest to turn his home into a shrine to the evolution of motoring.

Having opened Palace House to the public in 1952 the peer exhibited a handful of cars as a tribute to his motoring pioneer father.

The fledgling museum became a huge hit and the kitchen, built in the 1870s, was gutted to make way for a new motorcycle display.

Now the former cooking area is being recreated - but Beaulieu needs help to make the restoration as accurate as possible.

Sarah Downer, keeper of collections, told the Daily Echo: "So far we only have one photograph of the kitchen as it was before 1952.

"The picture dates from 1905 and shows Annie Louise Freeman at work with two as yet unidentified kitchen maids.

“We need help to name the maids and would love to hear from anyone who worked here before 1952, visited the kitchen during that time and has any photographs or documents."

Staff are scouring the country for authentic artefacts and have already bought a Victorian range.

A Beaulieu spokesman said those involved in the project to restore the kitchen, until recently a gift shop, began by focusing on the chimney.

He added: "This area was previously a cupboard for the shop but it has now been re-opened for the first time in more than 50 years.

"We waited with bated breath to see how much soot would come pouring down and were pleasantly surprised when it only took up two wheelie bins."

However, the removal and replacement of the ceiling went less smoothly.

"This caused havoc, with plaster dust making its way up through three floors of the building. The ceiling has now been replaced and painted and work can start on the walls," said the spokesman.

A collection of stuffed birds collected between 1892 and 1952 were moved from the kitchen to other parts of the house.

The kitchen is due to open next month. Anyone who can help the researchers should call 01590 614701 or e-mail