Caring for our collection

A member of the conservation team dusting a blue and white pot

From armour to textiles, woodwork to windows, our dedicated team of conservation assistants and volunteers look after our collection throughout the year.

A sense of place

Some pieces in the house belonged to our late Victorian owners, the Coyler-Fergusson’s. They had a lawn sale in 1951, so their collection was dispersed, but thanks to bequests and sales, we have got some things back and you can see them today

Other pieces were collected by our last owner and donor, Charles Henry Robinson. His rooms are decorated in what he thought an English house looked like in the 1950s and are almost exactly how he had them in his time here.


House Winter Conservation

Why does the house close in winter? The gardens and courtyard remain open to visitors, but inside the house team are hard at work. See what happens behind closed doors.

It’s not just housework…

Do you fold your duster in a special way to prevent the edges catching on things? Do you get out a hogs hair brush to get all the dust out of the crevices? Do you have special brushes for cleaning certain items? We do… and these are just a few of our ways of working to keep Ightham Mote and its collection conserved.

Do you leave bug traps in strategic places so you can see what insects are in the house? We do… Throughout the house, we place bug traps to monitor what insects there are. We count them up and keep a record so we can check for problems and treat them where necessary.

…it’s also science

Do you have the heating on hot, humid days? Do you keep the windows closed throughout the year?
We do… We monitor and adjust the humidity levels throughout the house. If it’s too high, mould will grow and insects will flourish. if it’s too low, organic materials such as wood, paper and textiles can shrink, crack and become brittle.

Do you record how much light your rooms get? We do… we make sure our rooms do not have too much light, as this will damage fabrics, furniture and paintings. We use sun curtains and blackout curtains to keep within certain limits, called lux-hours.

More than a spring clean…

As well as continuing daily care of the collections, keeping dust and dirt to a minimum, the collections and the house undergo an annual deep conservation clean. Every winter, we ‘put the house to bed’ so we can carry out a ‘deep clean’.  During this time just some of the things we do are:

  • Inspect, polish and dustsheet all furniture
  • Dust and wash ceramics and cover with acid-free tissue paper ‘hats’
  • Vacuum all furnishings and cover with acid-free tissue paper, before putting on fitted dustcovers
  • We close all curtains to release creases. Any areas which trail on the floor and laid out on acid-free tissue paper.
  • Vacuum rugs and small carpets, both top and bottom. We then roll them right-side out with tissue paper covering every section, both inside and out.
rolling, rolling, rolling...
Conservation team rolling up a rug covered with acid-free tissue paper.
rolling, rolling, rolling...


Find out more...

For the chance to discover more about how the team look after Ightham Mote, look out for our Housekeeping events here.