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Hidden Treasures of the National Trust

Collections and house manager at Polesden Lacey cleaning a red Faberge egg
Collections and house manager at Polesden Lacey, Surrey, cleaning a Faberge egg | © National Trust Images/James Beck

Follow our conservation teams at work and get closer to the objects they care for in the second series of Hidden Treasures of the National Trust.

You can watch the six-part series every Friday at 9pm on BBC Two, starting from Friday 10 May. You can also catch up on any episodes you miss on BBC iPlayer.

What's the series about?

Hidden Treasures of the National Trust follows the conservators, curators and other experts who breathe new life into the places and objects we care for.

You’ll go behind the scenes to see the teams' extraordinary work looking after places and their collections for future generations. Throughout the series, you’ll meet some of our dedicated staff and volunteers who’ll share their passion for the treasures they help maintain. Each episode uncovers stories from different places across England and Wales.

In series one, Hidden Treasures of the National Trust visited Smallhythe in Kent to see the conservation of the Beetle Wing dress and velvet cloak worn by Victorian actress Dame Ellen Terry in 1888. Expert conservators at Mount Stewart, County Down, fixed some unusual concrete sculptures which were damaged in a storm and conservators at Biddulph Grange Garden in Staffordshire rebuilt the well-known Chinese-style wooden bridge. You can go back and watch all of series one on BBC iPlayer.

Series two

Episode one

Learn about the quirky interiors of A la Ronde – a sixteen-sided house in Devon. Designed by cousins Jane and Mary Parminter, the house is a legacy for female creativity and is filled with mementos from their world travels in the 18th century. Experts from the house are conserving the Shell Gallery, the walls of which are covered in more than 26,000 sea shells. You'll also head to Kingston Lacy in Dorset, which William John Bankes remotely remodelled during his exile. The team are preparing a Peter Paul Rubens painting, Marchesa Maria Serra Pallavicino, to be loaned out and are conserving the obelisk in the garden.

Episode two

In the second epsiode, you'll see experts at the Royal Oak Foundation Conservation Studio in Kent conserving portraits of Nancy Astor from Cliveden, Buckinghamshire, and Mrs Greville from Polesden Lacey, Surrey. Volunteers are also cleaning the Borghese balustrade at Cliveden and conservators and other experts at Polesden Lacey are repairing the clock tower and cleaning the Fabergé objets d'art collection.

A conservator cleaning fabric at the Textile Conservation Studio at Blickling, Norfolk
A conservator cleaning fabric at the Textile Conservation Studio at Blickling, Norfolk | © National Trust Images

Episode three

In this episode, Hidden Treasures focuses on the county house idyll. At Stourhead in Wiltshire, the acquisition and conservation of Angelica Kauffman’s painting, Penelope Awakened by Euriclea, is underway. An archaeological dig also takes place with volunteers to discover remains of the original house. Expert conservators at the Royal Oak Foundation Conservation Studio in Kent conserve a table made by Antony Salvin, the architect of Scotney Castle, Kent. You’ll also see the original scrapbooks from former owner Christoper Hussey’s travels – a writer who highlighted the cultural significance of country houses at risk.

Episode four

We explore collections and unusual collectors in this episode. Lord Fairhaven of Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire had a passion for collecting interesting objects, including a pagoda clock that’s undergoing conservation by a specialist. We also visit Mr Straw's House in Nottinghamshire, a preserved 1920s period home of a grocer’s family with more than 30,000 possessions left untouched. Here, the team are repairing a wall in William Straw’s bedroom. Finally, the team at Killerton in Devon, are preparing for their annual fashion exhibition where a fancy-dress costume goes for conservation.

Conservators working on collection items at The Royal Oak Foundation Conservation Studio at Knole, Kent
Conservators working on collection items at The Royal Oak Foundation Conservation Studio at Knole, Kent | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

Episode five

In this episode, we explore historic houses for their connections to status, careers and ambitions. At Saltram House in Devon, the team are conserving Theresa Parker’s portrait by Joshua Reynolds and have commissioned a replica Axminster carpet for the Grand Saloon. You’ll also learn about Benjamin Disraeli’s rise to political power, as the team at Hughenden Manor in Buckinghamshire restore his electioneering chair and work on the grand entrance gates.

Episode six

The final episode focuses on power and persecution. At Oxburgh Estate in Norfolk, you'll see the team re-evaluate a mezzotint by Le Blon, inventor of the three-colour printing process. At Penrhyn Castle and Garden in Wales, you'll see the team opening the castle’s unique archives and encouraging descendants of the quarry workers to share their families’ histories of the strike. Finally, watch the conservation of a rare, full-length portrait of servant John Wilton from Chirk Castle in Wales.

Supporting special places

As well as showcasing treasures from our collections and the work that goes into looking after them, filming benefits the places that star in the production. Sometimes, the benefits can also stretch wider than just the production locations, providing support for conservation work at many other historic houses and landscapes. This means we'll all be able to see these places and treasures both on screen and in real life for years to come.

Woman working on a portrait of Margaret Greville with Cliveden's Nancy Astor portrait in the background

Watch Hidden Treasures of the National Trust

You can find out more about the series and watch all the episodes on BBC iPlayer.

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