Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Restoring the domestic wing: building works so far

We're over half way through the building work in the domestic wing, so I thought I'd take this opporunity to share with you the work that's gone on so far. Cue the before and after shots!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Lino has been laid!

You might remember a while ago Alice went to the Geffrye Museum to look at lino catalogues and samples. This research, combined with details in the inventories as well as conversations with people who lived and worked at Anglesey Abbey, helped us to make a decision on what flooring should go down the domestic wing corridor.

The earliest inventory of Lord Fairhaven's residency at Anglesey Abbey listed the flooring as grey horsehair carpet - however several building extensions later and the flooring had been changed several times! The inventories list linoleum, but never explicitly listed a colour for the corridor. However the inventories gave us clues to the colour, as the lino colour in the staff living quarters was listed and in addition to this the lino was described as marbled.

Alice then asked some of her contacts, staff members who worked at Anglesey Abbey in the 1960s and people who lived in the Abbey, what colour the lino was. They further confirmed the previous evidence.

Then we needed to match our ideal vintage linoleum to materials currently available. Unfortunately, linoleum fell out of fashion so it's quite difficult to get hold of - although it is starting to come back in vogue now. In addition to this, some of the processes have changed and you cannot get the same marbling pattern that was abundant in the past! Fashion is a cruel mistress.

An alternative would be to get vinyl flooring which comes in a large range of colours and patterns. However, unlike linoleum, it is made of synthetic material - and is indeed - very different to linoleum. It would feel differently and create a different sound when people walked on it. We were challenged but we perservered.

After many months of searching, Sash (assistant house and collections manager) found a best fit in a modern day lino. In January, it was a happy day when the final piece had been laid and our corridor was finally fully lino-ed. Have a look at the result yourself and let us know what you think!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Willow Weaving

Wednesday and Thursday last week was a dedicated willow weaving bonanza! Our team of Family Adventure Guides came together to repair the tunnel to the tree house in Hoe Fen. Despite the very miserable weather, our very enthusiastic volunteers used their creativity to not only repair the tunnel but to produce a more exciting and interactive fence. The side now has peep holes, a flower, seasonal vases and spiders webs. A very productive couple of days sharing and developing our skills.

Network down...

Do you remember the big thunder storm that hit the East of England on Saturday 25th Jan? I don't because I just so happened to be at the cinema and so was completely oblivious until it was made rather clear by the huge problems it caused to our network here at Anglesey Abbey. I used the lack of network as an excuse to get out and see the ever changing grounds. Right now we are just commencing the glorious snow drop season.

It was rather wonderful to set out on foot on a lovely January morning and see the snowdrops carpeting the grounds here. I've never been good with gardening so it was a shock to find out just how many varieties of snow drop there are and how they look noticeably different. Luckily the garden team have put out a stand up at the visitors centre to allow all the pour souls, like myself, to show us the different types. It makes me feel rather silly to think a snowdrop is just a snowdrop. I highly recommend a visit to see the gardens at the moment.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Volunteer recruitment

Being interns means we have a lot of great opportunities to get involved in lots of different things going on around property. One of the latest adventures for Alice was being involved in volunteer recruitment. Having been recruited herself previously, as a room guide and then as an intern (which is a full time volunteering position) she already had insight into how it felt to be an interviewee.

The plan for the domestic wing is for it to have a slightly different feel to the rest of the house. It will be a space where people can touch objects and get involved in activities - especially traditional activities that would have been done by Lord Fairhaven's staff. These tasks would have included shoe and silver polishing, cooking and napkin folding. To deliver this experience the team here at Anglesey wanted to recruit people who would be comfortable doing these sorts of tasks. People who would be outgoing and willing to have a go - these people will form our Encounters team.

In addition to recruiting volunteers for the domestic wing, we always need volunteers to help out in other roles around property: room guides, mill volunteers as well as extra recruits for the craft group and research group.

So we set out to do a big recruitment. We held open days where people could come and see what it was like to volunteer at Anglesey Abbey and the different roles we have available at the moment. These open days went really well, and we had a lot of enthusiastic people signing up for our workshop days.

The workshop days were a real change for us. We've never done anything like this before. The workshops offered the opportunity for both potential volunteers and staff to see if they would suit the roles - matching their skills to the roles available. They were lots of fun (Alice went to both!) with a real mix of activities throughout the day. We told stories about objects, did some napkin folding, created dramatic tableaux, discussed what visitors liked from a day out and - to top it all off - ended the day with a shoe polishing competition!

Being involved in volunteer recruitment has been a great experience - seeing how things are done from both sides of the process! Alice has learnt a lot from this experience and will definitely be taking these ideas with her in her future career. Plus, she'll always have exceptionally shiny shoes!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Other things going on: inventory marking

At a busy property like Anglesey Abbey, there are often lots of different things going on all at once. Not only has there been conservation work, conservation tours and building work for the domestic wing up at the house - there's also been inventory marking!

The contents of Lord Fairhaven's
wardrobe, ready to be marked

The inventory marking project is contributing to Anglesey Abbey being a fully accredited museum. At the moment the tremendous ten have been working on the wardrobe (from November 2013 - March 2014). Over this period of time they will have marked every item in Lord Fairhaven's wardrobe including 144 handkerchiefs and a staggering 350 socks - around 1,500 objects in total! An amazing achievement!
Checking the list

Each item of clothing is allocated a unique number which is recorded on the National Trust Collections Management Database. For each object the team work from this list, writing the object's number onto a Tyvek label. Then, depending on the object, the label is sewn or tied to the object. This means that the object can always be identified. This allows us to track the object's location and condition. The fact it is on our national database means that other staff members in the National Trust can find the object and even look at its image. This means we can then compare objects in different collections and pool our knowledge!

Writing the label and sewing it to a glove

The tremendous ten's work is so valuable to Anglesey Abbey, ensuring the better care of our collection. Next winter they'll be moving from the wardrobe to Lord Fairhaven's desk - why not come back and see them then?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The New Addition To Our Kitchen

INTRODUCING… our new breakfast bar! And I should probably introduce myself as although I have now been an intern for 4 months and featured in a couple of the blog photos (yes that is me holding the meticulously crafted gingerbread house) this is my first blog post. So hello everyone, I am Philippa and I am the Community and Interpretation intern here at Anglesey Abbey.

Now back to the real introduction. We now have a breakfast bar in our kitchen! Although it is stool-less currently it holds much potential for eating various meals of the day off of, not to mention the extra space for food preparation. So we are all very excited for our stools to arrive so that we can eat our different concoctions that we consider to be meals.