It’s always exciting to visit another National Trust property, so when I had the opportunity to see the conservation work at Scotney Castle, I jumped at the chance to see what their conservation team was up to…
From a conservation point of view it’s great to meet other members of a house team and learn about the challenges they face and how they manage them. I was lucky enough to work alongside the House Steward Emma, who has a great knowledge of the property and the conservation issues currently being addressed.
The biggest challenge facing Scotney is damp. Sadly water ingress is penetrating the porous sandstone walls causing many issues within the Victorian property. Emma showed me the entrance porch where mould was discovered; some of the wood cladding had been removed exposing sodden sandstone behind. In such severe cases the Trust has to call upon the skills of specialist conservators.
There are other examples where the in-house conservation team can help. Many of the rooms suffer with mould on furniture, walls, textiles and individual items. In ‘The Dressing Room’ there was a severe case of mould showing on the wallpaper on the inside of an external wall, so it didn’t surprise me when I was asked to do ‘my bit’ and remove some of this mould during my visit.
Once we were equipped with protective masks, gloves, mould brushes and ergo vacuums, we set about removing the mould. This was achieved by gently brushing the wallpaper with a pony hairbrush attached to the nozzle of a vacuum and where the mould was most stubborn a hog hairbrush was used. This is now a constant battle for Scotney, but the team are very efficient at managing the problem by regular spot checks and monitoring each room during the ‘deep clean’ process.
I really enjoyed my visit to Scotney and hope if you’re visiting soon, that you take the time to appreciate the work involved in preserving this Trust property on a daily basis.
Caroline, Conservation Assistant