Take a seat at Sudbury

The Great Hall at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire

In 2019 we need your help to take part in a conservation experiment like no other. We often get asked how certain items in the Hall are protected, so we’re taking part in a project to show exactly what happens when items are handled.

We’ll be testing the effects of touch and looking at the practical impact that ‘bums on seats’ would have on our chairs. But don’t worry; we’ve got hold of some new chairs especially to test this out!

See how we care for our collections
A woman conducting chair conservation
See how we care for our collections

Spot the difference

Early in 2019 we’ll be putting two new chairs on display at Sudbury Hall.  The two chairs will sit side by side, but will lead two very different lives.  The first chair will be strictly ‘hands off’ and will receive our finest conservation cleaning and care to keep it in the best possible condition.  The second chair is where you come in; we need you to be as hands on as you wish. You’ll be able to touch it, sit on it and use it as much as possible.

Over time you’ll be able to see the wear and tear and how the condition of these chairs differs between the one that receives conservation care and the one that doesn’t.

Delve in to the past at Sudbury
Stone passage at Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire
Delve in to the past at Sudbury

Share and chair alike

Many of the objects we care for are hundreds of years old, and we hope to care for them for hundreds more.  These special chairs at Sudbury will help us learn more about the effect of a year’s worth of visitor interaction with an object. But the project doesn’t end there. We wanted to be a bit more ambitious than that! 

To help simulate many years of use, we’re going to be taking two more identical chairs out on tour with us to some of the busiest locations in our region. Again, one chair will receive the highest quality care, and the other will have several thousand people sitting on it. You’ll be able to see for yourself how conservation preserves items and protects them for the future.

Explore how we can protect objects and help them last
Close up of wear on a historical chair
Explore how we can protect objects and help them last

We’ll be recording a video diary to show how our chairs change during this project, so keep an eye on our social media and webpages for updates, as well as a video feed at the property.