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Conservation Work on Vita's Writing Room

Vita's desk in the newly conserved Writing Room in the Tower at Sissinghurst
Vita's desk in the newly conserved Writing Room in the Tower at Sissinghurst | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

On 31st August 2021, the Tower Volunteer Steward heard a crash from the first floor of the Tower. What followed was an extensive process of meticulous conservation work to revive the room. Learn more about the process here.

Conservation Timeline

31st August 2021

The collapse

Partial ceiling collapse in Vita's Writing Room

Damage to Vita's Writing Room ceiling
Damage to Vita's Writing Room ceiling | © National Trust Images/Lizzie McGrath

Seeing the results

As of February 2023, we are proud to announce that the complex building conservation project in the Writing Room is now complete.

The project aimed to preserve this incredile female space for generations to come.

The painstaking process saw the conservation of the ceiling and walls using slow-drying natural materials and techniques dating back to the Tower's Elizabethan origin. Meticulous analysis of the walls revealed Vita's original decorative scheme and her 1940s choice of a rosy pink distemper had been reinstated. Alongisde this building works were improvements to the lighting, heating and environmental controls in the room.

The process will be featured in a new TV series called Hidden Treasures of the National Trust on BBC Two. You will be able to catch up on any episodes missed on BBC iPlayer.

A view of the rosy pink distempered walls in Vita's Writing Room
A view of the rosy pink distempered walls in Vita's Writing Room | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Historical importance

Since the Writing Room has been closed for more than a year, our team wanted to give people the opportunity to see the room since the ceiling repair and the return of one of the original historic colours chosen by Vita. On select dates through January and February, we offered visitors the exclusive opportunity to step inside the room to learn more about the process.

Given that visitors would usually only be able to see the room from the threshold, this exclusive access was a fantastic opportunity to see conservation in action as the conservators and curators return the objects back to their original locations. This pain-staking process also allowed us a rare opportunity to reflect upon each object and why Vita chose those items for her personal space of sanctity.

Please keep checking our Upcoming Events and social media channels for news of extra dates being added, as well as this page for more current photography of the room.

Returning books to Vita's Writing Room
Returning books to Vita's Writing Room | © National Trust Images/Cassie Dickson

Shelf liners

The books are slid into place on shelf liners designed to ease the pressure on the bindings and prolong their life

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The process to restore the Writing Room to its former glory has truly been a labour of love and would not have been possible without our fantastic property team, specialist conservators and surveyors. We are very proud of the conservation work that has been poured into its upkeep and we look forward to welcoming visitors back.

Naive painting created with ink and dye in around 1761, showing Sissinghurst Castle, Kent, in use as a prisoner-of-war camp, with the killing of several French prisoners.

The history of Sissinghurst Castle Garden 

From castle to prison, working farm to world-renowned garden, Sissinghurst's past is nothing but varied and each of its incarnations have added to its story.