The building survey - Quinquennial Survey to give it's proper name (QS for short) - looks at all aspects of the building from the state of the walls to the electrics and water supply. Here we'll also be having a survey of Beblowe Crag (the rock the Castle sits on) which will involve abseilers checking the state of the volcanic rock so vital to the stability of the building.
Our specialist architect spent hour upon hour inspecting, measuring and photographing the building and provided us with a comprehensive report on the present state of the Castle. This is accompanied by their recommendations for works over the next 1, 2, 5, 10 and 15 years (and beyond) as well as any urgent works that need our immediate attention. This allows us to prepare our budget forecasts and explore funding options before embarking on the highest priority jobs.
The Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is a slightly different animal. This is a document designed to be used for many more years than this present incarnation of the QS. Future National Trust staff, and consultants, will be able to refer to the CMP as part of their decision making in years to come. We have found recently that we are looking at recurring problems which have (or have not) been dealt with in the past and the CMP will allow a proper procedure to be put in place for dealing with such issues, and help future staff manage the conservation needs of the Castle.
To produce this plan we first needed to understand exactly what it is we have here (that is, beyond the obvious Tudor Castle renovated in the 20th-century). We needed to delve deep into the records; archives, photographs, plans, oral testimonies, financial records, and the like, to gain a clear picture of how the Castle came to be, how it has developed and changed over the centuries, and how it is going to change in the future. With such a document in our hands, managing that change - always a difficult challenge - will be made that little bit easier.