One last trip into the basements March 21 2016

Naomi looks into a trunk in the basement

Throughout her 6 month conservation internship, Naomi has spent a huge amount of time inventorying the untouched collections and architectural pieces in the basements at Polesden Lacey. In the last of a series of reflective posts, this week Naomi looks back on all her work in the basement stores.

I have spent an amazing 6 months with the house team and I have loved every second. My time has been split between general housekeeping with the rest of the house team and my project, which has been to record the items in one of the basement stores.

I have spent many a dusty afternoon scavenging through the piles of items, generally leaving the basement with a layer or dust coating my jeans and boots, from kneeling or sitting to get a better look at an object. 

A daunting task

To begin with, the task of recording all the items in the basement store was a little daunting but I got stuck in and found myself more and more interested in what I found. Most of the items in the room are architectural interiors, fixtures and fittings and other miscellaneous items all of which have found their way into the store over the years.

My favourite items have to be the fireplace surrounds and the cornice and frieze pieces. When seen as part of a room these pieces can sometimes be overlooked or seen as just part of the decoration, but when seen individually you can clearly see the intricate patterns that make up each individual piece.

I find that I now spend a lot of my time looking at these items in situ both at Polesden Lacey and other properties wanting to see ones similar to those I have found in the basement.

A pile of left over architectural peices from the house
A pile of left over architectural peices from the house

I uploaded all the information onto our collections management system so that the items can now be viewed online, then once this was completed, it was back to the basement to begin the process of tying labels onto the items with their inventory number. I have now recorded the details of over 100 items some of which are made up of several individual pieces.

An piece of marble from a fire place with a written inventory sheet
An piece of marble from a fire place with a written inventory sheet

A little bit of mystery 

As the store and its contents have become more familiar to me there have been several occasions when I have been examining an item and realised that there is a matching piece or part of an item that I thought was missing located somewhere else in the basement.

One of these was the corner of a marble top. Other than the corner being missing, the marble is in good condition. The corner was found wrapped in bubble wrap hidden behind a different pile of items.

Some of the items kept in the store also appear to have been fire or smoke damaged, from the fire that occured here at Poleden Lacey in the 1960s.

A cupboard door with fire damage
A cupboard door with fire damage

The mystery of exactly where in the house these items come from may not ever be known, however I have loved seeking out similar items during the deep clean over the winter. 

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