September - A brush with the past

Chirk Castle Conservation Assistant Hannah Morris working under the table in the Dining Room
Published : 10 Aug 2017 Last update : 27 Aug 2017

At Chirk Castle, we are preparing ourselves to say ‘goodbye’ to Hannah Morris, who has been one of our hard-working Conservation Assistants for the past two years. Reviewing her time and her role, Hannah says she realised very early on that it was, "the same as being a guardian, with a passion and a genuine appreciation for that which is in your charge”.

Hannah has told us that it’s been a massive privilege to help with the preservation of the historic Chirk Castle collection, and have the opportunity to learn about its amazing history. It was the National Trust motto which inspired her: ‘Forever, For Everyone’ caught her imagination, and like many she is now passionate about the castle and its contents. As she says, “every object you work with has its story to tell”.

A History graduate, in her time here she’s enthusiastically taken part in a number of courses, such as Integrated Pest Management, Emergency Salvage, Potentially Harmful Environmental Elements  . . . and even Scaffolding Training! She says that she couldn’t have asked for more relevant training – all she’s ever had to do is ask, and she’s been guided in the right direction.

Hannah says that the best time for a Conservationist is winter – not because of the absence of visitors, but because this provides time to focus on individual objects, look at their conservation reports, give them their yearly clean … and get the scaffolding out! The high vantage point offered when in this position gives a completely different perspective on the castle’s rooms, and an infinitely more intimate association with the plasterwork on the ceilings!

Hannah also likes the occasions when she can engage with the public, and educate the many visitors who are interested in the castle, its history and contents. Like any enthusiastic lover of her work, she feels that there is never really enough time to complete a job before another task looms on the horizon. . .

Her steel toe-capped boots will be one memory which will stay with her in the years ahead: vital when clambering up and down scaffolding, they have oddly become an object of her affection . . . but unfortunately they are much heavier than her usual shoes, and she’s aware that we can hear her approaching from some distance!

In the brief time that Hannah has been with us at Chirk, we have come to love and respect a keen, enthusiastic and focused worker who never fails to be up-beat in her approach to her role at the castle, and to life in general. We will sincerely miss her sparkling good humour and her sincerity, knowing full well that our loss will be to the benefit of countless future children, who will soon enjoy their time with a potentially superb teacher. Good luck, Hannah.

To help visitors find out more about the work our conservation team do we have a special exhibition starting on Saturday 9 September which details the varied work that the team do, and many of the little quirks of the trade that most people wouldn't think about. The exhibition runs until 5 November. Normal admission applies. National Trust members free. Please note the exhibition is in upstairs rooms which are not wheelchair accessible.