In spite of the very bad weather that we had all day our normal large audience attended to hear Gary Enstone talk on how the National Trust conserve their properties and contents. (Although based on Batemans, the principles apply to all properties.)
At the start of the lecture Gary stated that he would be talking on the procedures used until 12 months ago when houses were 'put to bed' and closed to the public. He then proceeded to give a humorous, relaxed, and interesting lecture on his work in conserving the contents of Batemans. The N.T. are in a typical 'catch 22 situation'.
They need to maximise visitors to increase their income for this conservation, but larger numbers results in greater 'wear and tear' and thus an increase in expenditure for conservation!
The policy of the N.T. is to conserve the property as it was when they took it over (against English Heritage who restore it to when it was built). One of their biggest problems is day light. A maximum of only 1000 hours p.a. can be allowed into rooms and this is controlled by staff using blinds, curtains and U.V. filters fitted onto the glass in the windows (very expensive and needing regular replacement).
The general cleaning is by a 'Henry' and depending on visitors could be up to 4 times a day. Gary then gave us some N.T. trade secrets -
Wood, furniture, carvings, floors etc. are gently cleaned with a cloth that has been soaked in a mixture of 50% paraffin and vinegar and used almost dry. Protect with a light polish (available from the N.T. shop). China, cleaned with a weak washing up solution, dry with paper towels, never use dusters. Fabrics, they use adjustable vacuum cleanings with filters and test each items to judge the strength, it can take 7 hours just to do the testing! The main theme was that everything has to undertaken with care with no regard to the time taken. To undertake this huge task the N.T. asked all experts in the country to write on their particular area of conservation and have produced a book which is used by all N.T. staff. (on sale at N.T. shops).
To improve their financial situation the properties are now open all year round, resulting in the staff having to plan on how to undertake this conservation with visitors present.
Annual Lunch 2015: 70 and still flowering!
Bugs and Beasties: Paul Patton
Open garden: Carole & Ian Woodland
Hilary Newman: Vertical gardening: Climbing & Wall Shrubs
Bateman's: Conservation with the National Trust
Christmas Party 2014
Coffee Morning: November 2014
AGM 2014: Chairman's Report
Wisley in Autumn: October 2014