Exploring our archive at Scotney Castle

In 2007 the National Trust took over the management of the mansion at Scotney Castle. Our first priority was to get the house open for visitors to enjoy and to understand the main stories about the collection that people see whilst visiting. So now we have begun going through our stored collection and cataloguing what else we are finding. This is an important challenge for us as we need to understand what we have and how it can influence our understanding of the stories of Scotney and the people who lived and worked here.

Why now?

During our cataloguing project we have discovered that there is a vast paper archive in draws and boxes throughout the house.  A brief overview has revealed that this contains First World War diaries, mediaeval papers, family correspondence, and letters and photographs, in addition to other interesting and often surprising items. National Trust standards and recommendations made following Scotney’s Museum Accreditation mean that tackling the backlog of cataloguing is a high priority for the property. 

What are we trying to achieve?

We have recently put in place a small archiving project to begin to understand what we have in the collection and where it is located, as well as to create more detailed records which will allow for it to be more easily accessed. Ultimately, we want to enable the easy transfer of our records to the Centre of Kentish Studies in Maidstone so that they can sit alongside the rest of the Hussey and Scotney archive which was deposited there by Betty Hussey in the 1970’s.  

But paper is boring isn’t it?

In winter 2014 we installed the exhibition ‘Arthur’s War’. This exhibition has proven that a “paper” archive can be both interesting and interactive. We hope that the archiving project will help to illustrate that the process of cataloguing papers as well as encouraging people to think about the records that they collect and leave in their own lives.  We would like to try and provide visitors with the experience of the feeling of discovery which the team at Scotney enjoy. This project will also hopefully help Jamie our writer in residence as he can work alongside the archivists to pull out interesting items to help to inform his stories.

The team

Beth and Ellen from Folio Consulting are professional archivists with over 25 years combined experience in the management of archives, libraries and museums. They are currently employed on a part-time basis by The Royal College of Surgeons of England (Beth) and Imperial War Museums (Ellen). Folio Consulting are, at present, also engaged as an Archivist and Disability Heritage Consultant on the History of Place project. Beth and Ellen will be working with a team of Scotney volunteers by training and supporting them in delivering the project.