A closer look at the Cabinet of Curiosities

A lady brushing shells

Caring for Wallington and its collection is an on-going task. Our specially trained conservation team work throughout the year to keep every item in our care in the best condition possible.

The conservation team recently spent a few months removing several years of dust from the Cabinet of Curiosities at the very top of the house, which had its last 'deep clean' back in 2007.  

This quirky little museum, full of weird and wonderful objects collected by the family over the generations, was brought to life by the team as they carried out delicate conservation cleaning while visitors looked on, often fascinated by some of the truly amazing things that the team worked on.

Conservation in action in the Cabinet of Curiosities
A lady brushing dust off a shell into a vacuum cleaner nozzle held by a man

Have you ever been up close and personal to a Porcupine Fish, seen a kangaroo’s paw (minus the kangaroo!) or a ‘bum nut’? How about a grog warmer or a Narwhal tusk?  

Even the stuffed birds come to life when they get a bit of tender loving care and gentle dusting.   While they may seem strange objects to have in your home, these top quality taxidermy specimens were created for scientific purposes, as a way of taking a closer look at the natural world before television or the internet was invented.

Every item needs to be carefully cleaned and checked
Two shells awaiting cleaning

All this spring cleaning also had another purpose.  All 1000 objects had to be checked against the inventory and carefully examined to make sure they remain in tip top condition, before they were cleaned and put back in the exact spot where they came from on the shelves.

Luckily they are all numbered and photographed to help work out which is which, but we've still found a few mystery objects among them....

From fossils and shells to the skull of a poacher and a lock of hair cut from the mane of a living lion, the room is full of curiosities which tell us a lot about the collecting habits of previous centuries - what would you choose to put in a modern-day Cabinet of Curiosities?

The conservation team has now moved on to work in other parts of the house but you can still see them in action every day between 1 - 4pm.