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9 Dec 2021

Putting Kellie Castle to bed

Putting Kellie Castle to bed


Two voices – Caroline Hirst (CH), Sandie Allison (SA)

CH - I'm Caroline Hirst. I'm Visitor Services Supervisor here at Kellie Castle, located in Fife.
Kellie has been home to four families starting well before the 14th century and it now houses a phenomenal collection of interiors and items that have particular relevance to mark the tapestry of the history of Kellie Castle.
Every season we come towards the end and we put the castle to bed for the winter time.
It's an exciting time when we can finally thank the property for obviously opening itself to the public.
The National Trust for Scotland Conservation Care team are crucial to making this happen every year and are here at Kellie Castle today, showing how this is undertaken.

SA - I'm Sandie Allison and I’m the Visitor Services Supervisor for Collections Care for Fife.
We’re here today and we're doing part of putting the castle to bed.
What that means is we're actually covering our collections items to help protect them from dust and debris accumulations that might build up whilst the castle’s actually closed to visitors during our winter season.
Basically what that means is those covers are giving extra protection.
They’re stopping the dust and debris getting through and also makes our life a little bit easier when we come back to actually do the deep clean later in the season around January/February time, just before we open the castle up again to visitors.
When it comes to the smaller objects, we usually use things called tissue paper hats or slips.
They're actually exactly the same thing: hats are vertical; slips horizontal.
But basically they’re a little envelope that we can actually either pop over a small collections item like a candlestick, or for the horizontal a dish can slide into.
They are a little envelope and we keep one edge open just to allow air flow as well.
We make sure that on every little slip or hat that we create, we have the room's location, where the item is placed within that room, so we know if it actually gets moved where to put it back to.
It has the object description and also its inventory number as well.

We also make sure the dust and debris is not going to build up on textile surfaces, so we actually stop micro-climates forming.
We actually use acid-free tissue paper generally under our covers as well.
What that does for us is it actually helps create a buffer between any surfaces we haven't yet cleaned and our lovely clean dust sheets.
It also means that if we do have moisture building up creating a little bit of a micro-climate in there because it's covered, it would absorb the moisture for us and just means we can throw that tissue away at the beginning of the new season but the covers we can retain.

So today there's quite a team helping out with this.
There’s myself, we have our two Visitor Services Assistants for Collections Care and two of our stalwart volunteers: our fantastic Elizabeth and also Eleanor who is a fairly new room guide and started helping out with conservation care last year.
In the Fife cluster we have some really fantastic volunteers who are part of a sewing team and some of them also do other roles for us in their properties like room guiding as well.
So for example here at Kellie Castle we have Elizabeth, who's known as Fantastic Elizabeth, and she’s started already to make some purpose-made covers for our collection out of a conservation-grade material called Tyvek.
She's actually now joining forces with our other cluster of sewing volunteers to complete a whole set of covers for the castle, which is just fantastic and we couldn't do without her.

As the properties close in autumn and we move into winter, it becomes a very different time for us here at the National Trust for Scotland.
Many people believe that we actually close our properties and maybe leave them and walk away but that just isn't the case.

For us in Collections Care and Conservation this is actually one of our busiest times of the year.
Whilst we are putting Kellie Castle to bed there will be areas that come alive again whilst we have a hive of activity as we deep-clean the collection, do condition assessments, make sure that the collection is in good condition for when we open again and we welcome our visitors back in the spring.

Whilst many of our places stay open all year, some of our properties are carefully put to bed for the winter. This important job is carried out each year by our Collections Care teams, assisted as always by our dedicated volunteers.

Here, we join the team at Kellie Castle for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what putting the castle to bed means.

Kellie Castle will reopen to visitors in spring 2022, but you can check our handy guide for a list of places that stay open during the winter months.

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