Cast your minds back to Alex’s post last year about her time on the Housekeeping Study Days at Polsedon Lacey. This year Fran and myself made the trip up to Shropshire for our turn on the HSKD, this year hosted at Attingham Park. Attingham Park is an 18th Century mansion, set in beautiful parkland all which was owned by the same family for 160 years. We were visiting amidst their ‘Attingham Re-discovered’ project which has seen extensive conservation work to the building.
Fran and I were both in groups with people from all over the country and various properties. It’s a brilliant excuse to share experiences and ask advice of each other and to make some new friends within the Trust. In these groups we all did a lot of practical work as well as some more theory based discussions. The main focuses this year were stone floors, metal work, books and paper and wooden furniture.
Books and paper was lead by the ever entertaining Andrew Bush (NT books and paper specialist) and Michele Bartlett (NT Regional Conservator and lover of Snowshill). I think Fran and I would both agree this was the best session of the week. Not only did we laugh a lot but we learnt a lot. We learnt how to distinguish paper from parchment, we learnt more about the care of libraries, how to take books of shelves correctly – did you know there are three ways to do so? At the end of the session we all got given a little kit to make our own book. This was an idea you may see at Snowshill very soon…
You may remember the turtle mats in the front door and the black marks they left on the stone floor. We learnt how to remove these marks and have tested the method over the winter. Despite having to clean stains of marble slaps and clean intricate plaster work, the stone floors session was very interesting. There was a lot of focus on properties who host big parties and may get wine, dirt and even shoe polish on their lovely marble floors. Despite nothing but the dirt being relevant to us, we both learnt a lot of good techniques for cleaning the floors correctly.
Each morning time was spent discussing the agents of deterioration and how they affect a historical environment. Then a practical session, followed by a delicious lunch and more learning in the afternoon. We can recommend tamping carpets to anyone who needs to release a little tension!
As we have now moved into seven day opening, these courses are a brilliant resource to learn how other properties have coped with the transition to longer opening. More people through the Manor will of course mean there will be more conservation work to be done but it gives us a really unique opportunity to involve everyone who walks through the front door in what we do. We already have plans in place for hands on cleaning demos, we’ve even got objects we will invite people to help clean and another conservation week is in the pipeline with even more visiting conservators.
What an exciting time to be at Snowshill!