Conserving the collections at Gunby Hall

Delftware lid being cleaned at Gunby

With thousands of items to look after in many rooms, our housekeeping team have their work cut out. Take a look at how they look after the collection.

Delicate with Delft

Our ceramics, like this Delftware vase, are given a careful clean with cotton wool. Some warm water with a little gentle detergent is used to carefully lift any surface dirt. As some of the Delftware is damaged, we take great care to make sure moisture doesn't penetrate the broken areas and previous repairs.

Each piece is carefully cleaned by hand
Person cleaning delftware at Gunby

What's in store?

The extensive Gunby glass collection comes out of its cupboards once a year for a gentle brush and when necessary a clean. Our housekeeping team tries to deep clean all our 4800 collection pieces once a year.

Conserving the collections we care for takes a steady hand and patience
Decanter and glasses inscribed with the initials H M for Henry Massingberd

Some items in the Gunby collection are stored on site and most of these pieces need specialist restoration or repair before they can be displayed. The items are checked regularly to monitor their condition.

Some paintings are kept in store
Paintings in storage at Gunby

Conservation in Action

On some days when the house is open, you'll meet Gunby conservation volunteers cleaning or monitoring collection pieces during your visit. Our volunteer are always keen to talk to you about the work they're doing that day and explain how we look after the many items in the Gunby collection.

Chat to Gunby's conservation volunteers during your visit
Conservation volunteers at Gunby

" The most enjoyable part of being a conservation volunteer is occasionally being able to handle furniture, precious objects within cabinets and family photo albums. This helps, when I’m a room guide, to have that extra bit of knowledge of an item when asked not only by the visitors but also by other room guides."
- Peter, Gunby Conservation Volunteer

Deep clean

Once a year our rooms are turned upside down to give the housekeeping team a chance to clean every corner of our house. This means that many collection pieces have to move temporarily into adjacent rooms.

Conservation volunteers help to deep clean the Music Room
Volunteers deep cleaning the Gunby Music Room

How we conserve the collections

There are a number of tools we can use to help preserve the rooms and objects:

  •     Pest traps - the traps capture creepy crawlies and allow the housekeeping team to monitor what unseen pests are present within the house. If excessive numbers are captured within the traps then appropriate action can be taken.

  •     Light control - sunlight causes irreversible damage to organic items in our collection like textiles and wood. We control the amount of light that falls on to our collection by using blinds and UV filters on our windows.

Blinds protect the collection and fixtures from UV damage
Window with blinds at Gunby

  •     RH monitoring - The housekeeping team regularly monitors the relative humidity (the amount of moisture in the air) and tries to maintain it  within a set band. Both high and low relative humidity  causes damage to objects within the collection and can encourage pest infestations and mould growth.
This RH monitor helps us check the relative humidity and temperature of each room at Gunby
Relative Humidity monitor at Gunby