Last Sunday, the Conservation Team including our volunteer Conservation Assistant Lisa, headed along the M4 for a stay in a Travelodge that was conveniently close to Tyntesfield. After checking in we went for dinner, followed by a mad dash back to our rooms for Downton Abbey (Lucy, Lisa and me) / Spooks (Melinda and Sarah), then bed! Bright eyed and bushy-tailed we made our way to Tyntesfield in the morning.
Why were we visiting I hear you ask…well Tyntesfield have had a lot of maintenance and conservation work carried out to the House in the last couple of years. As Knole will be embarking on a major conservation project of our own in the coming years, we thought it would be a good idea to go see how the house team at Tyntesfield managed their project and to see if we could pick up any useful tips.
We met Sarah (Assistant House Steward) and Karen (House Steward) for coffee once the house had opened. They summarised the work that had taken place (new roof, re-plumb, rewire, new glazing, and environmentally controlled heating installed). There were only a handful of objects that weren’t moved during the project, and they have 40,000 + objects on their inventory!
They gave us some great advice on how to work with the contractors and engage them in the place there are working – as it is more than just another building site! Plus some great tips on labelling and keeping track of objects as they are moved round the house, and identifying rooms and corridors to assist contractors finding their way around. The most useful information I would say we learnt, is that we make sure that before any work is carried out, such as installing plug sockets in to a show room, that the end users (the conservation team) are consulted about how we will need to use the and the best place in the room to put them. It seems like an obvious thing, but as Sarah pointed out to us there were one or two things at Tyntesfield that they weren’t consulted on and now it’s too late!
Sarah then took us on a behind the scenes tour of some of their store rooms and top floor rooms not open to the public yet. It was fantastic to speak with the team; we have come away with a lot useful information and food for thought about our project. I highly recommend a visit if you haven’t been already. If you went before the project work began, go back, there is even more to see!