Conserving photographic materials

Knole is known for our collection of English Stuart furniture, State beds, rare tapestries and carpets,and stunning silver furniture.  However, there are more treasures currently not seen as they are held in out collections store.

Knole’s collection of photographic materials is relatively small, but with several significant albums of very great interest and value to the property.  The albums contain some excellent images – copies of which may not exist elsewhere.  They show people, places and interests of the Sackville-West family and include many mid-19th century images of Knole.

A photograph in the collection showing the Cartoon Gallery, in the 19th century

The best albums are very personal; they are annotated by their former owner and contain charming, hand-drawn sketches. These have been handled a great deal in the past and are now in a collapsed, very poor state with risk of permanent loss of parts of the album

One of the annotated photo albums / scrap books.

A page from the same album with 2 watercolour sketches

As well as loose prints and albums, the collection contains approximately 80 – 100 glass plate negatives.  Sadly most of the collection in a recent condition survey has scored quite low, the condition rating of most pieces is fair, and their stability being unstable and treatment is scored as necessary.  One of the most interesting albums featuring photos is rated as being in poor condition and highly unstable.

The poor storage of the some of the glass plate negatives.

Just some of the loose prints, inadequately stored.

This year money from raffle tickets sold at Knole, and gift aid on entry from admission tickets will go towards remedial conservation repairs to the collection, including improving their storage.  If enough funds were raised we would like to have a bespoke display case made so that the collection could be brought out of store for small exhibitions.  Additionally digital copies of the albums could be made to allow everyday access to the collection.

So when you visit Knole, please buy a raffle ticket, not only could be in with a chance of winning the top prize of £10,000, but you’ll be helping to conserve our fabulous photographic materials collection and enable it to be seen by our visitors.




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