House and collections heroes

Conservation in action at National Trust Greenway, Devon

Discover a bit more about the people who look after the houses in the English Riviera; Bradley, Coleton Fishacre, Compton Castle and Greenway.


House and Collections 

Looking after the fantastic houses in the English Riviera; Bradley Manor, Compton Castle, Coleton Fishacre and Greenway, are the House and Collections team. 

Elaine Ward is the House and Collections Manager and has worked for the National Trust for the last ten years.  Her team works across all four of the special places, and includes staff members Laura Murray, Senior House Steward based at Greenway and Rachel Stammers, House Steward (Conservation Lead) at Coleton Fishacre.


Teach and inspire


Elaine is motivated by the valuable collections and sees them as a valuable resource to tell our stories. 'I believe that you have to know where you have been, to know where you are going - our pasts help inform our future. And it's the excitement of time travel without the Tardis, we can visit faraway places and see amazing objects. Within our portfolio you can begin in the 13th century at Bradley, then move to the 15th century at Compton, then the Georgian period and modern day at Greenway and experience the 1920’s at Coleton Fishacre all within a few miles!'


Loving the day job


For Rachel, it’s taking a step away from the desk to help her team in the house. 'Coleton Fishacre is a place that resonates with so many people, I love hearing their stories about objects that are familiar to them – everyone seems to find something that their relative had one of. I brought some of my own family here and have stories of my own to share. I actually inherited a teapot identical to the one in the Servant’s Hall, and my grandmother used to treat herself to one of the Sobranie cocktail cigarettes each Christmas, just like the ones we have in the Dining Room.'


Behind the scenes


The hours of care and conservation that are needed to keep the houses looking spectacular is not always seen. Laura would love to showcase this a bit more. 'To be able to show our visitors how we take care of our precious collection, and all the time and care we put into cleaning even the smallest objects is great, and often people ask the most unexpected questions so I’m always learning from the answers too!'


Conservators care for the collections
A conservator working at Greenway, Devon
Conservators care for the collections


Looking after what we’ve got


As a conservation charity we’re custodians of the places in our care. For Elaine, this is the most important aspect of her role. 'The collections can’t speak for themselves, so I feel I must speak for them. I want to be able to leave a legacy of good collections management and care for the next generation to enjoy and learn from for the benefit of our visitors.'


We’re here for everyone


Visitors from all over the globe step through the doors and we’re here to welcome them. Laura is passionate about this and feels this is what makes a visit extra special. 'We want to make sure that people experience the house in the way that works best for them, whether that’s asking thousands of questions, or not speaking to anyone at all, but instead just soaking up the atmosphere of the house and gardens.'

Rachel too thrives on helping visitors get what they want out of their time here. 'It could be providing the answer to a question, an in depth discussion of something they have seen in the room, stories about the people who lived here or even just a clue for the children’s quiz.'


Visitors at Greenway, Devon
Visitors at Greenway, Devon
Visitors at Greenway, Devon

The team can be seen from time to time in the houses, so if you see them around, give them a wave. Every single person who supports our work helps us care for these special places. We couldn’t do it without you, so thank you.