Looking after Mr Straw's House

Our small team work extremely hard to look after Mr Straw's House and its collection. With over 30,000 objects to take care of, and such a small space to work in, this is no easy task. From raincoats, to bowler hats, knitted slippers to sweet tins, our collection is as diverse as you can imagine.

We have a team of Collections Management System volunteers dedicated to cataloguing, recording, and photographing the Mr Straw's House collection to make this accessible to visitors online by visiting the National Trust Collections website. So far this year the team have added to the 15000 items previously accessible by undertaking the Wash house photograhy. Hundreds of plant pots, coal bags, wheel barrows and tins from the wash house have been uploaded onto the collections management system. From the plant pots we have moved onto clothing. You can even watch our team at work on most days during the open season in the Conservation Studio.

If walls could talk

The wallpaper in Mr Straw's House has been hanging since 1923, when Florence Straw redecorated the house - with the latest Sanderson designs - before the family moved in. Nearly 100 years later, we take great care of these beautiful wallpapers. From monitoring their condition to undertaking regular programmes of conservation to keep them in tip top condition. 

Past projects

  •     our 'Cries of London' painting collection has been cleaned and remounted
  •     the Edwinstowe picture in Florence's parlour has been cleaned
  •     restoration of many paintings and pictures in the house
  •     several woodworm treatments throughout the house and collection
  •     rebuilding of the greenhouse
  •     patching to Walter's bedspread
  •     ceramic repairs
  •     ongoing textile washing programme
  •     bookcase draps in William's bedroom were conserved
  •     the clock in the Dining Room conserved and returned
  •     chair from the landing, textile conserved
  •     the kitchen lino was photographed and covered with a copy

Everyday work

Every morning, our House Steward, Danielle, is in early to prepare the house for the day's visitors. This covers everything necessary to keep the house presentable, from vacuuming carpets to dusting surfaces, as well as performing important conservation tasks, such as monitoring temperatures and levels of humidity, looking at our blunder traps or even winding clocks to make sure they contine to chime together.

Throughout the day, conservation work still takes place just with out the vacuum. From working in the archives with a team of volunteers systematically working through our archival information and transcribing the family diaries. In the Conservation Studio, the team continue to work on photographing objects in the collection and archive, to editing the Collections Management System down to working with the House and Visitor Services Manager, Torri, on planning, collections management documentation, Museum Accreditation or even planning new events and activities. 

For more information about the objects we care for, why not take a look at the National Trust Collections Online website:

Find out more about the National Trust Collections at over 200 historic places

Behind closed doors - Annual Conservation Cleaning

When Mr Straw's House closes for the season in November, that's when the hard work begins for the House team, with the annual conservation clean. During the four months, every room has to be emptied of its contents, each item cleaned and assessed and condition reports written when they are needed if anything has changed with an object. Each room is also cleaned from top to bottom, wallpaper, ceilings to waxing floors, tamping carpets and putting the house back together ready to reopen.

The Lumber Room contains many objects brought back from the shop

With over 30,000 objects in the house, this is a daunting task. Attention and care is given to those objects that require it, before each room is put back exactly as it was. For more information on what happens during the closed season keep your eyes peeled for the Putting the House to Bed tours with Torri and Danielle at the end of the first week in November.

How could you help?​

Conservation work can be very expensive. Caring for such a diverse range of objects, and materials can be challenging. This year, we are focusing upon the musical instruments in the collections. There are two pianos which have stood silent. Florence was a keen musician, even teaching the piano prior to her marriages in 1896. The house would have been filled with the tinkling of the piano when Florence was living in the house, and we would love to see this happen again. These pianos need to be taken apart, and each individual wire, and component need to be cleaned and put back together.

The piano in the parents bedroom belonged to Florence
Florence's piano

Onsite, every raffle ticket we sell here at Mr Straw's House this year will be going towards these musical instruments. We need to raise £7,500 to ensure these musical instruments will still be here for generations to come - and you could win an amazing prize. You could also drop a donation in to the donations box if you fancy helping a little further.