Sudbury Hall NT

Sudbury Hall NT Blog

Attic 6 project – Week Four

Hello Everyone,

It makes us all very proud to say that the ‘Attic 6 project’ is now finished!

Over the past few weeks we have been taking advantage of this lovely weather (meaning the attics are not too cold to work in!) and frantically trying to complete the project.  This couldn’t have been done without the help of two new collections volunteers.


Lucie Wood, is currently doing her M.A in Museum and Artefact Studies at Durham University and has been doing a four week internship with us.  Sophie Naylor is gaining some experience before starting her M.A. in Museum and Heritage Management at Nottingham Trent University.

As part of their experience they have helped me to finish some of the mould removal work that could not be completed alone. This includes work on four of our 19th century school desks, which are too heavy for one person to move around.

After completing all of the cleaning required for the objects it is important that we clean the room as well. To do this we use a museum vac to clean up any dust or dirt on the floor and the skirting boards. To finish off the room we will use an average mop that is slightly damp to pick up anything the museum vac hasn’t. We do not want to use an overly wet mop as we do not want to get the floor boards too wet as this could potentially encourage more mould growth and insects.

Now that we have completely cleaned Attic 6, it is time for us to make sure that all the objects fit properly into the attic, while having a clear walkway from the door to the window.   In starting this, we have noted where each object has been placed on a plan of Attic 6 room plan, which will become a point of reference for finding objects in the future.

Due to our tight organisation we have been able to fit another item in the attic that was acquired before Christmas. We have been able to find a home for this beautiful 1975 Silver cross doll’s pram.

All that is left to do is to wait for our ‘sewing ladies’, (who volunteer for us and make our individual covers for our museum objects), who will be back in summer to help make the rest of the covers.  For the time being we have draped them in the same fabric that we use to make the covers out of to protect them.

If you still have any questions, please feel free to ask or if you would personally like to see our attics why not book yourself in to our “What’s in Store” tours.   These will be taking place on the 30th June, 25th August and 27th October, so if you’re interested it costs £2.50 per person and you need to book a place so call 01283 5853347.



Attic 6 project – Week Three

Hello Everyone,

I know it has been a while since we have given you any updates on the Attic 6 project.

Well, since returning after Christmas, we have been busy preparing for our new exhibition “From Playmobil to Puppy Love – Growing up in the 1970s” and for our upcoming attic tours “What’s in Store?”.

But there is also another reason, which is wonderful news but sad at the same time! Rose, another collections volunteer, has left to begin working at Hardwick Hall, leaving me, Rebecca undertaking the Attic 6 Project, on my for the time being. Everyone from Sudbury Hall and the National Trust Museum if Childhood wishes her the best of luck in her future endeavours, and hope she returns when the project is finished to let us know what she thinks!

Hopefully we will soon have a new volunteer starting, who will be raring to go and will help to complete the project before the cold weather returns again.

As you have seen in previous blogs, we have been working like crazy, so this week has been a bit dull in comparison. We have had to update our computer software MODES, with all the conservation work we have done, so that there is a record of all the work undertaken.

You have seen a few items that we have within Attic 6, but I thought you might want to know.

This beautiful spilt cane furniture, which is wonderfully adorable, is dated circa 1950. We do not know much about who made the furniture.




 This Victorian highchair was made by an English Furniture marker: Frank Hadfield, which was made in Chapel en le Frith. This dark wooden highchair is dated 1875 and also converts into a rocking chair.


This blue and red steamroller is one of my favorite items, the owner of this toy was very lucky. It was made by Keystone Mfr Co, Mssachusetts, Boston, USA. When the front wheel does a full turn the bell under the hood makes a tiny ring.


Cleaning toys from the 70s

In preparing for our forthcoming exhibition ‘From Playmobil to Puppy Love …. Growing up in the 1970s’, we have selected some fantastic toys that we have been dying to put on display for you to see.

But before we let you see them and reminisce, we decided that they needed a little bit of conservation cleaning.

If you have attended any of our Pest, Polish and Ponyhair events last year, you would have seen how we clean the ceramics of the Hall. We use the same method in cleaning any plastic toys we have in the collection. Cleaning toys within the museum is very different to how we clean toys at home.

  Before we get started cleaning the toys, we have to prepare our work station, as shown above.


The toy we are using as an example is from ‘Space 1999’ and has gathered some fluff between the gaps on the top. To get these pieces of fluff out we would use a pair of long tweezers and pull as much out as we can.

We will use 100% pure cotton wool, which we will wrap around cocktail sticks to make our own cotton wool buds (100% pure cotton wool has to be used, so it does not have any imperfection and be abrasive on the object).


We will use two different solutions to clean the object, first a mixture of de-ionised water with a mild detergent, then we would wipe the object again with de-ionised water (to make sure no detergent has been left on).

 Can you spot the difference?


This is one of the many toys that will be on display, in our Museum of Childhood. If you want to have a sneak peak at other objects and test your knowledge why not a go of our facebook page ( and do our 1970s toy quiz!

‘From Playmobil to Puppy Love …. Growing up in the 1970s’ exhibition will run from the 19th February – 12th June 2011.

Feel free to share with us any memories you have of your childhood in the 1970s!


Attic 6 project – Week Two

Well we have braved the chilly weather and started the process of mould cleaning on the few objects we noticed needed it. As hard as we try to protect and preserve every object, sometimes we can’t fight Mother Nature.  Each object requires a different method depending on its material, for example we wouldn’t treat fabric the same way we would wood.

When cleaning objects affected with mould it is important that it is carried out in the correct environment, because mo uld is more dangerous to us than it is to the object! This means we have to follow the advice and rules that the National Trust has put in place for our safety and wellbeing.

This involves being in a room, which is well ventilated, as well as being well lit. A photography studio lamp is also used to increase the light level; as it helps us to find the mould spores with greater ease, as the fluffy parts of the mould become visible.  The most important part of this process, for our safety, is being dressed the correct way. As you can see in photograph this involves lab coats, vinyl gloves and a protective mask.

A rocking horse from attic 6 to use as an example to show you how we clean mould.


 We use a special museum vacuum, with the use of a hog’s hair brush to remove the fuzzy part of the mould as well as helping to clean off dust and dirt. The next step is to create our own cotton swabs, by wrapping 100% cotton wool around a chop stick (this sounds silly, but we try to be as inventive as we can). We then dip the cotton wool into a small out of a chemical called IMS which is basically pure alcohol. Then we gently wipe over the entire hard surface, which will clean the object at the same time. 

For a fabric or a painted object we would only use the special museums vacuum and hog’s hair brush.

Once the object is clean, its cover will be washed to stop re-growth, just in case the mould spores have passed onto the cover.

This is a time consuming task, especially when wearing the protective masks as it does get slightly uncomfortable after a while! But it is all worth every minute, as it helps in the conservation of an object.

Well I’m afraid we are going to take a little break for a few weeks, as well as everyone else for Christmas, so I will see you all in the New Year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


Sudbury Hall and the National Trust Museum of Childhood


Attic 6 project – Week One

Well, the attic 6 project is up and running, with the first official week of work.

Before we can start doing any re-organisation work, it is important to assess every object within the attic.  This involves making loads of lists (which I will admit I have become very obsessed in making).  We have started organising objects into different categories, so we know what is needed to be done… By doing this it means we can also plan ahead.  These categories are cleaning, photography and indicating if special covers are needed, as well as checking that all the objects are stored in correct attic.

It is Important that we note the individual record number (accession number) of each item, so we can find each object on the collections management system, MODES, which we currently use at Sudbury Hall.  From 2011 we will be using the National Trust’s own cataloguing system CMS, which I will have to get used to!

Many objects are missing photographs or need updated photographs taken.  This, I believe, is the interesting part of the project, as we get to handle all the beautiful objects within the attic, which are all extremely magical and uniquely different. 


 The aim is for each object to have an appropriate sized cover that helps to protect the object, with its individual record number visible and the objects photograph on top. 


 As you’re all aware it is getting very chilly, in fact we have SNOW!  This has slightly hindered the project as the attic stores are just as cold as it is outside.!

Through this cold weather next week, we are still going to begin cleaning objects.  I will also share with you how the National Trust goes about removing mould from the objects.  See you next week and feel free to ask any questions.



Attic 6 project

Hello Everyone

My name is Becky; I am in my third year of doing a B.A (Hons) History of Art with Museum Studies course. I have been volunteering with the collections department at Sudbury Hall and the National Trust Museum of Childhood since April 2010.

I’m working on a project we have named the “Attic 6 project”, which shows all the skills the National Trust uses in order to protect and preserve its collection, attic 6 is one of many stores within Sudbury Hall used for storing the museum collection. As part of an ongoing collections management project it was decided it was time to give it a good old clean, while re-organising at the same time.

Due to the size of the attic, four hands are definitely better than two, so I will have fellow volunteer Rose helping me.

I look forward to sharing with you how the project progresses each week and sharing the knowledge about what we have learnt. Feel free to ask any questions about what is happening with the project if you want to know anymore!



‘Dear Santa…All I want for Christmas’

Our temporary Christmas exhibition at the National Trust Museum of Childhood, ‘Dear Santa…All I want for Christmas’ opens on the 6th November and we are looking to get our visitors involved in an unusal way.
Engraved 19th century notepaper

19th century engraved notepaper from the museum collection - A schoolboy's dream of Christmas'.

We want to know what people wanted for Christmas.  Have you ever wanted a present for Christmas that you never received?  Or did you get what you wanted and it was the best present ever!

On Saturday 6th November we are going to create a mini film set in the museum so visitors can be filmed talking about their memoreis and even what they want for Christmas this year.  These clips will then be shown in the gallery during weekends in November and December.

This follows on from some filming I went along to last week with James and Helen. 

Lucy with clapper board

Me at Peartree Infant School trying to look professional!

We went to Peartree Infant School in Derby to film kids talking about what they wanted (mostly laptops, DS Lites and football strips) for Christmas this year.

James Reader

James setting up his equipment ready to film the school children.

These films, along with a great little animation featuring action man, can be seen in the gallery from 6th November and following weekends through to 19th December 2010.

Come and tell us what you want for Christmas!


Animations, flip cameras and sound effects at Sudbury!

Last week a group of  staff and volunteers had a great day learning about filming and video techniques from our New Media Consultant, James Reader from Front Row Films.

I have to say, I was fairly nervous about this event.  We had such a mixed group of ages, abilities and experience that I was worried people might find it all too irrelevant.  However, I couldn’t have been more surprised.

James adapted a workshop he normally delivers to kids in schools…this was the level we needed!

With funding via the Reniassance East Midlands MuBu project we have been able to purchase 3 flip cameras.  Our first task of the day, after learning about the 4 different types of shot (wide screen, close up etc) was to go and have a play…and play we did…..


The morning was spent going out and about making short clips using the 4 techniques we had been shown.  Some of us went into the Hall and recorded factual tours around the rooms, whilst others stayed fairly local to the Parish Rooms and focused on sites  such as the pub and the bowling green.

In the afternoon we had great fun making short stop motion animations using toys from our handling collections.

Stop motion animation.

 We are now thinking of lots of ways in which we can apply this to things we do in the museum.  Having a go with dubbing over these with sound effects was also great fun….some people even carried on experimenting with this in the kitchen over coffee and biscuits…..

Adding sound effects.

What a great day.  Feed back from all those involved appears to be very positive.  Next step is to make sure we don’t lose momentum and that we carry on filming and getting creative with our collections!


Socially Networked Preservation?!

So, Sudbury Hall and The National Trust of Childhood has finally dipped it’s toe into the world of Web 2.0….and maybe we’ve started to paddle a little bit too….

Thanks to a grant from Renaissance East Midlands and their regional digital programme called MuBu (Museum Buddies), we are now working on a project to help connect our museum with (new) audiences. MuBu is helping us to generate these audiences through social networking online by offering us support through grant funding, advice and training and networking opportunities. Our project has already grown and developed from our original intentions of giving people an insight into the conservation work we do – particularly when Sudbury Hall is closed to the public. The original idea stemmed from a successful conservation based event that we already run at the property called ‘Pests, Polish and Pony Hair’.

We decided that we would like to build on this and use social networking to help improve and deliver education in conservation and to showcase our work to new communities. The collections care work we undertake here is to be communicated to a variety of audiences through video streaming and creating discussions.

Our project aims include:

1. Improve our offer for different audiences and connect with new communities.

2. Increase development opportunities for staff in both conservation and digital media.

3. Provide diverse volunteering opportunities.

4. Provide greater access for the public to the work of the Trust.

5. Help to show why income is important to our property.

6. Build on an already successful event in a new and innovative way.

7. Pilot a new method of ‘socially networked preservation’ for the Trust.

 8. Showcase the work that Sudbury and the NT has, in the past, done behind closed doors.

9. Use the outcomes of this project to help develop interpretation throughout the hall and the museum.

We are also very keen to also provide more access to our museum collections through this project. We are working on devising trails and have already started putting photos of recent acquisitions (such as this one eyed cat) on Facebook etc. Collections Assistants, Sue and Helen, and a small team of volunteers, have been working very hard to get this side of the project rolling.

We are working closely with a film-maker and a community development co-ordinator to help us deliver this project. After a day of filming last month, we are now at the editing stage with a number of short films where staff and volunteers are introducing themselves and talking about their different roles at Sudbury. These should hopefully be on YouTube very shortly, so watch this space!

And this is our very own one-eyed cat, Albie, who lives on the property. Maybe he can become a film star in his own right as the project progresses!


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