Hello to any current and hopefully future readers of this blog.
To introduce the author’s, we are Emily, Sarah, Melinda and Lucy – together we are the Conservation Team at Knole.
We are responsible for the day-to-day care and preservation of the fragile and historically important collection at Knole.
Through this blog we hope to tell you about all the weird and wonderful things we get up in the course of our daily work. It’s not all vacuuming and dusting, although we do, do an awful lot of that too!
Welcome to the world of Preventive Conservation!
Emily – House Steward:
I joined the National Trust in 2006, first at Shaw’s Corner and Wimpole Hall, before coming to Knole in August 2010. My undergraduate degree is in History and I have recently completed an MA in Preventive Conservation. Working with the collection at Knole is constantly challenging but it is also highly rewarding. I’ve learnt a lot about the collection and preventive conservation in general in my first year here, but there is so much more for me to take in. My favourite room at Knole is the Cartoon Gallery, and some of my favourite pieces from the collection include the Gilt clock in the Ballroom (because it’s just about the only clock that keeps time well) and the silver dressing table set in the Spangled Bedroom.
Sarah – Conservation Assistant:
October 2010 marks my fifth year at Knole as a Conservation Assistant. I have worked for the Trust before in the late 90’s at Chartwell in Visitor Services, so I’ve seen both sides of how the Trust work to engage the public at their properties. I really enjoy our work at Knole, we are very fortunate to have such hands-on access to a varied and historical collection. Each day is different, with new challenges; it certainly keeps you on your toes. Even in the few years I have been here there have been many changes to our role and it’s a privilege to be at the core of what goes on in the House. One of my favourite things about Knole is the fabric of the building, the wood panelling and floors, and decorative ceilings create lovely galleries in particular. My favourite object is the large Amari dish at the top of the Lead Stairs.
Melinda – Conservation Assistant:
I joined Knole as a Conservation Assistant in 2007 after a year as a room steward. My time volunteering as a room steward helped me to decide that I really wanted to work at Knole in a hands-on practical role, and was lucky that a job in the Conservation department came along at just the right time.
We are a close-knit team who rely on each other and enjoy working together. For me, the highlight of the year is the winter season, where we thoroughly immerse ourselves in both cleaning the house and collection and observing many of the experts that come in to carry out specialist projects on the house. I consider myself extremely fortunate, as Knole combines an interesting job with great team spirit.
Lucy – Conservation Assistant:
I joined the Conservation Team in November 2010 having previously been a conservation volunteer at Bateman’s. I am currently working towards an MA in Heritage Management and hope to develop a career within the National Trust.
I have enjoyed many visits to Knole over the years and am delighted to play a part in the care of such a remarkable and unique property. Being part of the Conservation Team means there is fantastic variety within our day to day work, with tasks ranging from cleaning textiles to building scaffolding towers. I look forward to the winter clean when we have the opportunity to get a closer look at both the collection and the building itself.
Some of my favourite pieces from the Knole collection include the Boulle tables and clock found in the Ballroom and the ebony cabinet in the King’s Room. I am also interested in the many carvings that adorn the house, in particular the marble chimney pieces in the Cartoon Gallery and in the Ballroom.
Volunteer Conservation Assistants
Susie was formerly the House Steward Osterley Park and has an MA in Heritage Management. Susie has volunteered at Knole since January 2012 and assists with administration, particularly with the property emergency salvage plan, and the day-to-day preventive conservation.
Helen – House and Collections Manager:
My journey to the National Trust has been a convoluted one. Following my BSc in Archaeology at the University of Bradford and an MSt in European Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Oxford I worked as an Archaeologist. In 1998 I came out of field archaeology and went briefly into research. Realising that it wasn’t for me, I started to volunteer on Saturdays at Chastleton House in Oxfordshire. A few months later I got the job of House Steward at Lacock Abbey, moving to the position of House Manager at Hatchlands Park four years later. I’ve been at Knole since 2006 and my remit covers conservation and collections, learning, interpretation, volunteering and acting as deputy Property Manager. To me, Knole is the perfect property, encompassing my favourite architectural periods (Medieval to Jacobean), shadowy, enigmatic interiors and a predominantly C17th collection with an intriguing building archaeology – of which there is still much to discover. My favourite painting is The Poetess in the Spangled Dressing Room and my favourite objects are the Spiering tapestries.
Siobhan – Project Conservator:
I originally trained and worked as a paper and book conservator, working in a variety of private and public institutions such as the Athenaeum Club, The Houses of Parliament, Kew Gardens Herbarium, The Royal College of Surgeons and a variety of NT libraries across the country. I joined the NT in 2000 as regional conservator for the South East, acting as an advisor on preventive conservation and housekeeping. In May 2011 I became part of the Knole team as project conservator for the Inspired by Knole project. This 10-15 year project will be addressing serious building and conservation problems at Knole, opening up new spaces to the public and working on transforming our visitor experience.
Emma – Curator:
I have worked as a curator for the National Trust for the last five years with a portfolio including Knole, Sissinghurst, Scotney Castle and White Cliffs. This has included completion of a five year phased opening of the New House at Scotney and opening the visitor reception and Orangery at Knole. I have a specialist interest in furnishing textiles and costume and am a member of the Trust’s costume working group. Knole is an extraordinary place with many stories to tell and secrets to reveal. Part of my work as a curator is to ensure that the delicate balance of factors that make up Knole’s unique Spirit of Place is recognised and the significance of the historic landscape, built structures and collections understood. The Spangled Bed at Knole makes my eyes light up every time I look at it; it is amazing to me that such beautiful and delicate silk hangings have survived the ravages of history and time for over 400 years.