Explore Gunby's Curiosity Cabinet

Curiosity Cabinet at Gunby

Find out more facts about conservation by peeking in the drawers of Gunby's new addition: a modern take on a Curiosity Cabinet.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many country house owners travelled widely and collected items of interest,both as a reminder of their travels and to show their visitors how well travelled they were. Also, in the Georgian and Victorian periods, interest in other cultures and also sciences, such as natural history and archaeology was at an all-time high. Such cabinets were created to both store and show these ‘curiosities’. These cabinets were often pieces of well-crafted furniture, as was fitting for the unusual and exotic items which were contained within. Such cabinets are found at properties throughout the National Trust, although Gunby Hall did not, until now, have a curiosity cabinet. The Gunby cabinet is a modern take on the traditional and rather than showing treasures from travels, it’s a hands-on experience, telling the story of historic house conservation and the reasons behind the rope barriers and ‘do not touch’ signs found at National Trust places.  

These students from Newark College created the cabinet
Students who made the Curiosity Cabinet

Completed in 2016, Gunby’s Curiosity Cabinet was created through a partnership with Newark College’s furniture making course. Crafted using traditional furniture making methods, the cabinet was built to a high standard, using high quality materials; just as these cabinets were made historically. Gunby’s House Steward, Wendy Jackson, had the idea to create a modern cabinet, telling the story of conservation in historic houses and why it’s as important today as ever. Students from the college built the cabinet, alongside their studies and once being delivered to Gunby has been fitted out to create a hands-on experience for visitors. Gunby Estate, Hall and Gardens is grateful to the staff and students of Newark College for their enthusiasm and skilled craftsmanship.

The Servants' Hall in Gunby's basement
Servants' Hall at Gunby

The Curiosity Cabinet can be found in the newly interpreted Servants' Hall in the Gunby basement. Please feel free to explore the cabinet and see how Gunby Hall is cared for and preserved for this and future generations to enjoy.