Caring for Barrington Court

Barrington Court archive photo of the house

It takes a lot of work to care for Barrington. Our conservation staff and volunteers work year round to control and delay the deterioration of the building and its contents.

But what is the purpose of conservation at a special place like Barrington, which doesn’t have a traditional furniture collection?

The National Trust defines conservation as 'the careful management of change'. Change is inevitable, but there are many things that can slow the process. Lyle’s collection of architectural salvage is what brought Barrington back to life after hundreds of years of neglect, and it needs care and attention to prevent it from declining once again. Monitoring the house builds a detailed picture of the nature of its spaces, which tells the Trust how to improve conditions to ensure the house survives. 

There are 10 key dangers to the house, the so-called 'agents of deterioration': light, fire, water, loss, physical (general wear and tear), chemical (pollutants or dust), biological (pests), incorrect relative humidity, incorrect temperature and disassociation (loss of context, provenance or significance). Conservation is ensuring the house isn’t exposed to any of these dangers by detecting them, then blocking them, and finally responding to or treating any damage. In other words: looking after what we’ve got, for ever, for everyone.

Organic materials like wood are particularly vulnerable to deterioration because they’re sensitive to changes in relative humidity. Did you know 80% of dust is made up of skin cells? Removing dust is really important – not only because dust is abrasive and scratches surfaces, but also because skin contains moisture. A layer of dust on the surface of Barrington’s panelling could create a humid micro-environment, which could cause the wood to expand or attract nasty creatures like woodworm. 

It’s great to see the impact of regular, ongoing care here at Barrington; seeing the house look its best, but also enabling us to fully appreciate the craftsmanship of this very special place. Thanks to your support, we are able to continue caring for Lyle’s collection; simply by buying a raffle ticket during your visit, you are ensuring Barrington will be here for many years to come.