Hello to any current and hopefully future readers of this blog.
To introduce the author’s, we are Alex B, Alex P, Alice, Harriet, Henry, Laurel, Lucy and Helen – together we are the Knole Conservation Team.
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 to in the course of our daily work. It’s not all vacuuming and dusting, although we do an awful lot of that too!
Welcome to the world of Preventive Conservation!
Alice – Conservation Assistant:
I joined the conservation team at Knole as a volunteer in May 2014 and have since joined as a member of staff. I’m loving every minute! Every day is different and you always come away having learnt something new. It’s also an incredible privilege to help care for the amazing house and collections at Knole.The National Trust has always been part of my life and it was visits to the unique and fascinating properties in their care which first inspired and nurtured my love of history.
My first taste of conservation was when I took on responsibility for the housekeeping of the site whilst working at Carisbrooke Castle. From then on I was hooked. I was lucky enough to be able to do a three month conservation internship at Basildon Park which I thoroughly enjoyed and which enabled me to learn more about the cleaning, conservation and handling techniques for a broad range of materials. However, I knew I wanted to develop my knowledge and skills further. So when the opportunity came to volunteer at Knole, I leapt at the chance.
One of my favourite parts of Knole is the Great Staircase; I love the beauty and hidden symbolism of the carvings and painted decoration. A special mention, however, has to go to the portrait of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey in the Cartoon Gallery, which I vividly remember from one of my first visits to Knole as child. We thought he looked very uncomfortable in his very tight tights!
Alex P – Conservation and Engagement Assistant
I joined the Conservation Team at Knole in November 2013 just as the open season was coming to a close. I’ve always loved history and visiting historic houses and so I always knew I’d end up following this interest into a job somehow! Following an MA in Museum and Heritage Management I volunteered at various NT properties whilst hoping to stay with the Trust permanently. I have been a Room Guide at Bateman’s, helped with the winter clean at Smallhythe Place and most recently I have worked at Bodiam Castle. I have enjoyed my time at each and every National Trust property and so far Knole is no different!
Volunteer Conservation Assistants
Val volunteers for us as an administrator and conservation assistant.
I joined the Conservation Team at Knole as an Administrator in October 2012. I have always had a keen interest in Conservation and Heritage nurtured by an early career stint in the Science Museum, London. It was evident that there is a lot happening at Knole and so an ideal time to find out more about Knole and conservation in the National Trust.
In addition to admin support I have also been involved with the ‘Knole Unwrapped’ project since March 2013. It has been a great learning experience and introduction to the more practical side of preventive conservation and collection management.
I have since joining the team gained a far better appreciation of the hard work involved in balancing, the caring for and preserving of such a unique house and collection whilst also allowing safe access to ensure it is shared with as many as possible.
Lucy – House Steward:
I joined the Conservation Team in November 2010 having previously been a conservation volunteer at Bateman’s. Since then I have learned so much both from the team and this remarkable building as well as successfully completing a Master’s degree in Heritage Management in 2013.
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.
I came to the National Trust in 1999 following work as a Field Archaeologist and then a brief stint in research. My first role was as 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 departments are conservation and collections and premises/facilities management. I’m also very involved in the project, working on the showrooms and new spaces and in providing the information for our interpretation in those areas. I act as client for the showrooms/new spaces and am also working as part of the team looking at the interpretation in the new Conservation Studio which will open next year. Knole encompasses some of my favourite architectural periods (Medieval to Jacobean), a C17th collection and an intriguing building archaeology – of which there is still much to discover. The opportunity to combine my love of archaeology with history is perfect!