Having spent the day with the staff and volunteers at Hanbury Hall and Gardens, every person I met enthused about their role. Without these dedicated and passionate people we wouldn’t have such fabulous properties and heritage sites to visit. Here’s an insight into what it takes to look after the house and gardens at Hanbury Hall.
The Hanbury Hall Conservation Team
Since seeing a television programme showing some of the work undertaken to preserve the treasures within National Trust properties I’ve been intrigued by the conservation behind the scenes. On my recent trip to Hanbury Hall I spent time with the conservation team to find out how the property is looked after on a day to day basis.
I spent time with Cath and Alan learning the tricks they employ to ensure Hanbury Hall stays in tip top condition. Before they are let loose, on the treasures, all the conservation staff have to attend an in depth course on how they should clean. One key thing, that is learnt, is to check whether items actually need cleaning. Constant cleaning can cause damage, so the team only clean when they feel it is necessary.
The everyday clean ensures that there is minimal dust on the fabrics and furniture. Preserving the furniture is key. So the dusters are folded ‘the National Trust way’ by folding the corners into themselves, then the same again. This ensures there are no rough edges that could damage the furniture.
All visitor areas are vacuumed daily with robed off areas only once a week. There is a delicate vacuuming of fabrics if required. The fabrics are professionally cleaned by a conservator at the same time the condition is checked to see if there has been any deterioration. A deep clean of the property is undertaken once a year. This includes the cornacing, pictures, skirting boards, polishing floors etc.
The Hanbury Hall Gardeners
I met Caroline, the head gardener, at the Parterre and two of her team were hard at work making sure the Buxus were trimmed to the exact size. It certainly looked back breaking stuff, but their attention to detail was to be applauded on such a warm summers day. This job is undertaken once a year with two to three people working on it at a time.
The gardening team hand prune in the fruit garden and hoe every fortnight to keep on top of any weeds.
The volunteers keep the large walled garden it top shape. We met a couple on our tour and they talked to Caroline about what they had completed and what they were coming back to do tomorrow. Caroline has a good team of volunteers who all give up quite a bit of time to tend to the gardens. As you would imagine, all are passionate gardeners.
Along with spending time with Cath, Caroline, Alan and Tony, I met with Alice, the Visitor Services Manager. Over afternoon tea I quizzed Alice about how The National Trust manages each property and really got to understand what it takes to market a National Trust property.
Thank you to all the staff and volunteers who allowed me to spend time with them. I really enjoyed finding out what goes on behind the scenes at Hanbury Hall and Gardens. It certainly gave me a new appreciation for the work that they do.