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Our work in the house at Canons Ashby

Textile conservator working on 18th-century waistcoats in the Book Room at Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire
Textile conservator working on 18th-century waistcoats in the Book Room at Canons Ashby | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Caring for Canons Ashby goes on all year round with much of the work being done behind the scenes. From deep cleans and completing in-depth historical research to conserving fragile artefacts, find out more about our work in the house at Canons Ashby.

Deep clean

With so many unique collection items and architectural features, keeping Canons Ashby in good condition and open to the public can be a challenge. By closing the house for parts of winter, the house team have the perfect opportunity to address the many conservation issues that arise throughout the year.

Each room has different conservation challenges that the team face on a day-to-day basis. Some of the main agents of deterioration are relative humidity, light, pests, dust, mechanical damage and mould, and it’s hard work to keep all of these different problems at bay.

‘It’s our job to protect Canons Ashby’s built environment from harm and make sure it looks its best for our visitors’
- Rachel Zenker, Collections & House Officer

The team carefully clean everything in the collection, often using small brushes and a vacuum cleaner with an undyed nylon mesh filter. This keeps dust under control and reduces damage to the collection, while also allowing the team to notice signs of pests and decay. They are particularly alert to silverfish, who could cause serious damage to the historic book collection.

Recent projects

Alongside the daily and annual cleaning, larger conservation projects have also taken place to help protect and restore Canons Ashby. Often this work is supported by onsite fundraising.

Historic building recording

In order to understand more about Canons Ashby’s quirky and complicated building, the National Trust worked with archaeologists from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) to complete a detailed historic building survey of the house between autumn 2017 and spring 2018.

As part of the report the archaeologists photographed and surveyed each section of the house in minute detail. They produced a 3D model of the house and re-discovered long lost floors. The findings of the survey will, in the future, help the team to develop conservation, interpretation and visitor engagement for Canons Ashby in the future.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from Canons Ashby’s Heritage Records Online website.

The Staircase at Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire
The Staircase at Canons Ashby | © Andreas von Einsiedel 2015, All Rights Reserved

Staircase carpet

The carpet in the main staircase does a very important job: it protects the vulnerable and historic floor. The previous modern carpet had become very thin thanks to plenty of footfall, which gave the team a chance to replace it with a new carpet specifically designed for the historic space.

By examining watercolours painted by Clara Dryden in the early 1900s, a new carpet pattern was designed and created in 2019, inspired by what was here over 100 years ago. This was created on historic looms by Grosvenor Wilton, one of the UK’s oldest independent carpet manufacturers.

Discover more about this project in this short video.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

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