Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent, a National Trust property

The collections and historic buildings at Leeds Museums and Galleries have a very high cultural value, so much so that many of the collections are Designated as being of national significance. Moreover, Temple Newsam House is the greatest historic house under local authority management in the United Kingdom. This value, or intellectual capital, has been created by curatorial expertise, often with conservation support. Curatorial expertise, and leadership, and what is generated from these for visitors, are core functions and strengths of service delivery. All other museum functions, including conservation, are, in effect, parasitical to those core strengths, i.e. they draw their reason for existence, and the “raw materials” of service delivery from the core strengths. The expertise, experience and judgment built up by working with these great collections and buildings has value to other organisations in advisory capacities. Two examples of outreach to other heritage organisations, to which I have contributed, are set out here.
The team at Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent, will be, all being well, embarking on a multi-million pound project to conserve the building fabric, interiors, and collections of the National Trust’s (NT) largest, most important and most problematic historic house. The project also has a major audience development element, in keeping with the NT’s policy of “Bringing places to life”. Very excitingly the NT plans are to include the creation of conservation studios in the medieval barn adjacent to Knole. The NT are preparing a Stage 2 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for project funding, and as part of developing the bid held a specialists’ consultation day on 06/02/2013. Specialists in conservation, archaeology and historic house interpretation and audience development were invited by the National Trust to review their plans and comment. The exercise will help the National Trust to develop its Stage 2 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The medieval barn at Knole. It was badly damaged in a fire in the 1980s, and the
roof is modern. As part of the buidling’s conversion to conservation studios the original
steep roofline will be restored.
Maquette of the Carved Room at Burton Constable Hall

Burton Constable Hall, near Hull, with whom LMG has worked in partnership since 1992, has a hugely interesting Baroque interior, from about 1680, the Carved Room. Unfortunately this room was heavily interfered with, and damaged, when it was converted into a catering kitchen, when Burton Constable Hall was still a private house. The room is entirely wooden panelling, and replete with fine carved mouldings. Most of the panelling survives ex situ. Paint analysis shows that it had a very light green, terre verte decorative scheme, with elements of the carving picked out in gold. There is also a fine double-vaulted ceiling that will need re-consruction, along with the extensive woodwork repairs, installation and decorating of the panelling. The sash window is one of the earliest in existence, contemporary with sash windows at Hampton Court. Elevations of the walls have been drawn, as well as ceiling plans. The distribution of green and gold has been mapped. Wooden components have been linked to their places on the elevations. The maquette in the picture has been prepared both for visitors and for Burton Constable Trustees. With plans and costs now all determined the next step is applications for funding to funders like the Pilgrim Trust, the Monument Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is going to be a thrilling project, and a rare opportunity to research and re-construct a Baroque interior, and an opportunity to refresh the joiner and carver skills.

Design for the vaulted ceiling
Posted by Ian Fraser

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