Early this year I went on the Housekeeping Study Days, which this time were housed in the Edwardian party house Polesden Lacey, in Surrey. The HKSD are the National Trust Preventive Conservation training. It’s four days of talks and demonstrations of every area of housekeeping you could think of, and a few you probably wouldn’t!
Every member of a conservation team is sent on the HKSD, around every 8 years. Although the basics of preventive conservation stay the same there are changes that are made to the methods that we use, like whether to wear gloves or not, and which chemicals are and are not approved.
It’s also a great chance to get to know conservation staff from other National Trust properties and from the wider heritage world. It’s interesting to find out how other properties work, what their staffing levels are like, how their cleaning is structured. With a possible change to 7 day opening coming up for Snowshill it will be a challenging time for us, to work out how to fit in all the cleaning we usually do on Tuesday, our closed day, if we start opening on Tuesdays. I found from talking to other people that we are very much in the minority by still having closed days and got some ideas on how we can change our way of cleaning.
This is the results of tamping half of a carpet that is on the visitor route at Polesden Lacey, which is open 7 days and has very high visitor numbers.
At Snowshill we have an incredibly diverse collection which provides lots of challenges and lots to learn, so going on the HKSD is essential in making sure we’re doing everything right. It is also interesting to learn about things we don’t have, for example there were sections on dealing with libraries, and although we do have some books in the collection it’s a small number and they’re dispersed throughout the property. We also don’t have to worry about floral arrangements and big events such as weddnings. One of the most enjoyable sections of the week was learning how to clean spills from stone floors. I hope we won’t have to worry about cleaning up red wine and olive oil spills at Snowshill, but it’s good to know how to!
I’ll leave you with a picture of the lovely view, and some statues that have been covered for the winter.