Conservation in action at Lacock Abbey

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Historic furniture, fragile ceramics and a Victorian rocking horse are just some of the items being preserved in front of the public as part of a conservation in action programme at Lacock Abbey this spring.

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until 31 March, visitors to Lacock Abbey will be able to see, and at times interact with, the work that is done to care for the abbey and its collection. 

‘It’s a really great opportunity for visitors to find out more about the work we do,’ said Katherine Manning, House Steward at Lacock Abbey. 

‘A lot of what we do day-to-day is preventative – the more we do now the better we can control and delay the deterioration of the building and objects in the future. This is a big job in a house like Lacock Abbey, where different parts of the house date from different times and have different needs, and it’s hugely important that those needs are met so that Lacock’s history can be preserved.’

There are over 800 years of history to preserve at Lacock; the abbey was first founded in 1232 by Ela, Countess of Salisbury. Since then, subsequent owners have made alterations and left their own stamp on the site – from the Tudor owner who first converted it to a family home, to the Georgian owner who added the Great Hall with its iconic array of terracotta sculptures.

‘The abbey is full of amazing historic objects’, said Jessica Millichap, one of the Conservation Assistants who will be working in the abbey this spring, ‘but I think I’m most excited to work on Firefoot, the Victorian rocking horse owned by the Talbot family. It’s quite a challenging object because it’s made up of so many different materials but because it’s unusual it will be really interesting to work on.’

The work on show will also draw attention to the challenges faced by conservators when caring for historic buildings like Lacock Abbey; dust, light, pests and fire are all risks to take into consideration and visitors will have the chance to learn about the preventative measures the team at the abbey take. 

Lacock’s conservation work will be on show in the abbey on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 11am and 4:15pm, until 31 March.

Lacock is near Chippenham, SN15 2LG. Open daily between 10:30am and 5:30pm. National Trust members and under 5s go free. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lacock or call 01249 730459 for more information.

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