Uncovering Hidden Treasures

House conservation Ickworth
Published : 08 Nov 2018 Last update : 10 Nov 2018

This winter, as part of our Ickworth Uncovered conservation project we need to move 2,500 collection items from the East Wing storage corridor in order to fix the leaking roof.

During the project items will go into other storage areas and some will be displayed for visitors to see for the very first time! It's a huge task and one that the House team, including their team of volunteers are relishing the challenge of!

We catch up with Conservation volunteers Gillian and Graham, who have spent the last few years cataloguing the collection and getting to know the artifacts within.


How long have you both been volunteering at Ickworth?

Gillian – I’ve been here about four years now, I am a historian by nature and after retirement was recommended volunteering with the National Trust by a friend.

Graham – I’ve also been here nearly four years and wanted to volunteer behind the scenes and this role was a great opportunity for that.

Did you start work on the East corridor collection straight away?

Gillian – Yes we did, we were asked to catalogue and number each item, so the collections could then be recorded on a computer cataloguing system. Each collection piece had to be numbered according to its material, for example some were painted on, whilst others pencilled on. Each collection item with multi parts also had to be numbered.

Graham – Part of the conservation volunteer role was a daily clean of areas of the House which was really helpful because you became familiar with the collection and treasures within and we were also given training on how to handle the items.

What are the items within the East Corridor?

Gillian – There is a vast variety of items within the collection since nothing gets thrown away. There are wine bottles, broken items, letters, maps and so much more. The first thing we did was to organise the collection into categories of materials to help us find items easier. Some things you wonder ‘Why are they in here?’, for example I found a swan neck glass two years ago which had clearly come off of a bigger item and I thought there must have been a story behind it. And there was! Only a couple of months ago we found a letter written by Jack Honeyball, the estate engineer who wrote that he’d broken the swan neck whilst he was cleaning the chandeliers. He was mortified he’d broken it and clearly felt the need to write about it in his letter. It was nice to solve that mystery, two years later!

Graham – My favourite items are a storage cabinet full of plans for the buildings and maps of the grounds. It’s fascinating to see Ickworth as it developed into the place we see today.

Are you excited about the Ickworth Uncovered project happening next year?

Gillian – Yes definitely! I think it’s a great opportunity for visitors to see the Rotunda in a different way, including parts of the collection they will have never seen before!