National Trust online

I thought I would share with you some of the pages I use regularly in my work here at Powis, as well as a few of the really interesting National Trust blogs that I follow!

A great source for high quality images of National Trust properties and a selection of their collections in National Trust Images. I use this site a lot in finding pictures for my blog, as well as choosing great images for the posters I make for events at the castle. It also helps add to my list of Trust properties I can’t wait to visit!

As I have mentioned before Powis Castle is on Facebook and Twitter, and so are many Trust properties, as well as the Trust as whole, and there are pages for different areas of the country, so you can see what is going on nationally, locally or just at one place.

National Trust Twitter page and Facebook and the Welsh Twitter page and Facebook. Have a look for your local areas page too!

Now to the blogs, these first two are interns who were on the day out at Heelis I blogged about earlier. Chloe is based at Plas Newydd and Sofia is based at Polesden Lacey.

It is great to read their blogs and learn a bit about what others in my situation are doing and thinking, and they are also new to the Trust so it is interesting to see how they are finding things working of the organisation. They are getting up to all sorts of fab and exciting things and are both at lovely properties! More to add to my list!

The National Trust Press Office blog is great for finding out what is happening nationally with the organisation, all the stories that are in the news and some that aren’t from an insider’s perspective! Treasure Hunt shines a light on some of the lesser known treasures of the National Trust, giving detail about the objects past and reasons as to why they are so valuable. It is a really interesting blog and make me feel really pleased to be part of the organisation responsible for caring for such treasures, and thankful that the Trust exists to do so.

The nest two are conservation specific blogs that go into great detail about a huge variety of different conservation tasks that take place constantly across the organisation, and some very unique to the property tasks as well. These are really informative and I love reading about things that I have not had chance to try my hand at yet, as well as reading about tasks to which I have done similar things to as well.  The first blog is written by the Conservation Team at Knole, and the second by the Team at Nostell Priory.

And of course all the blogs feature gorgeous scenery and stunning objects for you to feast your eyes on! Enjoy!

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Marketing Magic!

A couple of months ago I was given the fantastic opportunity of some paid work here at the castle, doing marketing, advertising and looking after the social media pages for the castle. This is such a brilliant opportunity for me to learn another important area of running a trust property, and of course the money doesn’t hurt, just in time for Christmas shopping!

Our Christmas theme

It has been quite a challenge as the work is not like anything I have done before, but I have really started to enjoy the work, the more so the more I get to grips with it. This new aspect of my work here at Powis involves looking after the facebook and twitter, which I was already pretty au fait with, creating posters, flyers and leaflets and distributing them, writing press releases and communicating with local press and companies that we could work with to advertise what is happening here. It is also going to be part of my role to maintain the Powis Castle web-page, so my next task will be to learn how to use what we call ‘nurture’, the National Trust web design software.

Santa is coming to Powis Castle

Making posters is good fun now I have wrapped my head around the software. There is an online system that we use which has templates for everything from posters and leaflets to adverts in all sizes and shapes. There is a picture library specific to each property on the program, and it links directly to National Trust Images which is very useful. The most challenging part is coming up with the text! Although it is sometimes frustrating that we are somewhat limited, in order to ensure a uniform look through out the Trust, the system is quick and easy to use. This is great because we have so many events coming up at the moment I seem to have been making hundreds of posters.

Powis Castle Lunch Club

I did my first poster mail-out the other day and co-wrote a press release which has been sent to all the local newspapers. It is all very exciting and very grown up too!! I have put links to some of the posters I have made throughout the text, do have a look and if it catches your fancy the castle is open everyday for the rest of the year, except Christmas day, I’m not sure how I’d feel about working that one! And if I haven’t mentioned it already the castle is looking fabulous thanks to our Fairy Tale takeover!

It’s Christmas!! Well it is for us anyway.

As I have been hinting at for a little while we have quite a magical theme happening her at Powis Castle this Christmas! We are having some very special guests to come and stay with us during the festive season, straight out of the pages of your favourite book of Fairy Tales!

This little lady got more than she bargained for when having a snack in our kitchens!

Tea anyone?

Uh oh someone has eaten all the sweets!

Who has lost their shoe on our Grand Staircase?

This cute little kitty is fiercer than he looks!

It has been absolutely mad these past couple of weeks getting everything ready for Christmas, with a tight budget and not enough time, but I am so pleased with our results! The castle looks so amazing, very magical. Even though it has been hard work I have really enjoyed decorating the castle for Christmas, doing the State Dining Room yesterday made me think I’d really enjoy a career as a set dresser (I’ll add it to my many possible career options). And the finished result is so worth it all, I’m so proud of the team for all the hard work that has been put in! I cannot wait to see the visitors reactions to the theme! It really looks stunning, I get so excited every time I walk into a room and see it all dresses up.

A little peak of what I was doing in the State Dining Room

I promise more photos in a couple of weeks, so if you’re really eager to see the magic, come on down to Powis Castle! Also I realized that on my post about my Hot Air Balloon ride I promised more photos, well there is a selection of photos from the event on the Powis Castle and Gardens Facebook page. Here is a link to the album: https://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.420764757971104.88681.137042753009974&type=3

Tapestry, trees and DGs.

Before I got to Powis, while I was still at university, one of the tapestry from the State Bedroom was sent away to be conserved. On Wednesday I got the chance to help the conservator hang it back in its rightful place.

Emma Telford had been responsible for working on the tapestry, and it had been taken to Belgium to be carefully cleaned to reveal its colours. She had repaired the weak points of the tapestry and given its condition a through check. Tuesday saw us putting up the scaffolding in preparation. This was the second time I had assisted in putting a scaffold tower up, but again did not climb it. I went up the tall ladder we placed to the side of the scaffold.

The tapestry on the right is the one just returned

The tapestry was delivered some days before rolled up onto a cardboard tube layered with acid-free tissue paper. The tapestry is attached to the wall with strong velcro, so it can be easily taken down in case of an emergency salvage situation. To put the tapestry back up we had to life the tube and unroll the tapestry along the wall, while others at the top stuck the velcro back on at the top. Emma Telford and Naomi went up the scaffold and I went up the huge ladder while Will and Ben unrolled the tube at the bottom.

In the end the tapestry went up much quicker than I expected it would, I like to think it was due to our fantastic team work, but it was probably because Emma is a seasoned expert at these sort of activities! I felt so amazed that I was allowed to assist and help hang the tapestry. It was a great experience for me as textiles is one of the areas I am toying with specialising in (some time in the far future).

It was very exciting to see the difference between the ‘before’ and ‘after’ tapestry  the conservation work made such a difference in the clarity and the colour. The tapestry’s return is also very well timed, as we have just had word that we have received funding for similar work to be done on one of our other tapestries  and it will be exciting to see the difference in that one after it has been sent away.

Monday was a busy busy day, as I expected with our grand Christmas opening coming up on Saturday. Us LTVs started the day by going up to the estate lands and picking Christmas trees for the castle!! Although it wasn’t quite like it is in the moves (more mud and rain, less pretty snow, the trees were shorter too) we had a good laugh picking them together and got some nice little trees to decorate. They were delivered to the castle Monday afternoon and placed in the castle and the decorating started Tuesday. We were having a lovely time hanging ornaments and singing Christmas carols! I promise to post pictures soon of our beautiful decorations.

Monday also heralded a big event for Powis Castle. It was the first day on the job for the new Director General of the National Trust, Dame Helen Ghosh, and she chose to start her time with the Trust not only in Wales, but right here at Powis Castle. This is a huge honour and I was very excited to get to meet her. She seemed very nice, interested in what we had to say, especially about the gardens. She asked me what I wanted to do after my time here was over, and I told her I knew I wanted to stay with the Trust but this opportunity had made me realise how many career options there are within the charity, and how many I would be happy doing. It was a real compliment for Dame Helen to start her time here, and will hopefully mean good things not only for us, but for Wales in general also!

Dame Helen Ghosh

Before I go one last teaser as to what our Christmas theme is going to be at the castle.

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Happy Birthday Powis

Yesterday we celebrated the anniversary of Powis Castle being handed over to the National Trust by the 4th Earl. All the staff and volunteers from all the different sections of the Castle came together to celebrate in the tea rooms yesterday evening. In celebration of 60 years of Trust ownership we had an indoor BBQ and Powis Pub Quiz in the tea rooms. It was such good fun and really nice for us all to socialize together. Although we interact often it is rare we all get together like this so it was really lovely; good fun and friendly, a perfect reflection of Powis Castle in general.

The Castle in Summer

The Peacock statue in the gardens in Autumn

On our tables while we were eating was a timeline of the highlights of the last 60 years and I though it was really interesting, all the stuff that has happened here since the Trust has owned it is amazing!

1952 – 4th Earl died and bequeathed Powis to the National Trust

1950’s – The Caesar’s busts are removed from the Long Gallery

1966 – Bryn Davies joins the garden team, he’s still with us today!

1974 – 5th Earl dies

1974 – 1978 – the 6th Earl uses the room now presented as the smoking room as a dining room

1981 – Bellotto’s painting ‘A view of Verona’ is purchased by the Trust with the aid of  National Heritage Memorial Fund, National Art Collections Fund, Victoria and Albert Museum Grant-in-Aid scheme and private contributions

1987 – The Countess Mountbatten of Burma opens the Clive Museum

1988 – 6th Earl dies

1990 – Bronze bust of Sir Herbert of Chirbury is purchased by the Trust with the aid of the National Museum of Wales with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the National Art Collections Fund

1993 – 7th Earl died and the title passed to the present Earl, John George Herbert

1995 – Powis Castle gardeners and others are invited to the garden party at Buckingham Palace

1995 – 1999 – H.R.H Prince Charles stays at Powis

1998 – H.R.H Prince Charles opens the new bridge by the Ice House in the gardens

1999 – Many items in the Clive Museum are purchased by Trust with the aid of  National Heritage Memorial Fund and the National Art Collections Fund

2007 – A project to restore the 8 Caesars in the Long Gallery is accomplished

2008 – 2010 – The heraldry friezes in the Long Gallery are cleaned and restored

2009 – Lady Stephanie Herbert marries, arriving in the State Coach

2009 – Visitor figure exceed 100,00 for the first time, this year its 108,00

2010 – The Private Dining Room is represented as the Smoking Room

2011 – The Royal Wedding – A record number of visitors watch on a large TV in the gardens

2011 – Powis hosted in the start of the Tour of Wales for the first time

2012 – Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – more than 5,000 visitors celebrated at Powis

The garden in the winter

The gardens in spring

All credit to Jenny for doing the research for the timeline above. I feel so privileged to have been able to have this opportunity, and especially so to be working at such an amazing property during this milestone year! We have been so busy at the moment but it is worth all the rushing around and stress to know I am contributing positively to this beautiful place’s story, and hopefully helping it towards another successful 60 years . . . and many many more!

Bringing the Old Kitchens back to life

I know I have mentioned mine and Kate’s Old kitchens project a couple of times so now I have finally taken some photos. The house team has been spilt into four groups for winter, each focusing on a different aspect of preparing for the winter season. The Conservation Assistants, Carol and Megan, are in charge of the Winter Clean. a huge task where every room in the property gets a deep clean and conservation tasks that need doing annually are undertaken.

Ben and Will have been given the Cellars as their area to prepare for the winter offer. Like the kitchens this area was pretty much a blank canvas for them to put their ideas into. They have decided on two themes; the Crimean War in the first area of the cellars, as Sir Percy Herbert fought in the Crimean War as we have several items in the collection that used to belong to him, including his medals and his sword. Their second area is dedicated to a history of brewing beer and ale, in collaboration with Monty’s Brewery, the place that has made our new Powis Pale Ale. This areas would have been used to store the ales that were drunk by the family at the castle. They have done some fab work with lighting in this section, making it really atmospheric!

The huge barrels in the cellars

Emma and Naomi have been tasked with the Ballroom and Clive Museum and have gone with an Indian theme, to tie in with the Clive of India collection. This is why I have been sewing Elephants, for the Christmas tree that will be in the Ballroom. Because the Old Kitchens and the Cellars are closed areas we have been able to get on with installing our winter offers, but Emma and Naomi have not had the chance to do the same.

The Ballroom

And on top of all of these themes will be our Christmas theme, it is going to be really spectacular and I am so excited about it! But more on that in another post.

The we have the Old Kitchens. We have focused on restoring the kitchens to something what they would have looked like when they were in use. After our House Staff Conference at Chirk Castle we have though differently about the interpretation we will be using. We are going to use the objects in the kitchen to tell the story of its use. Placing in utensils that can be handled and will show what happened in the kitchens, what technology and tools they had, and what they cooked. I have also been researching recipes from Menus found in the archives that we know were cooked in these kitchens and served at Powis.

The first physical step we took after the planning was filling the huge wooden dresser that stands in the kitchens with some beautiful Indian Rose design crockery that had been donates to the castle.

The dresser filled with Indian Rose china

Then we went shopping! We searched all the charity shops and antique shops in Welshpool for anything suitable for our kitchens that could also be handled by members of the public. We managed to do really well, with huge thanks to the Antique shop on Boots Street that did us some fantastic deals. All we really want now are some huge copper pan, but copper is so expensive at the moment that will have to wait for another day, or year. Then all our purchases had to be cleaned up, the cooks at Powis would have run a very well oiled ship so we can’t let the side down!

Cleaning pots for use in the kitchens.

The we put our purchases out on display in the Kitchens.

The dresser with some of our bargains on

We had decided we wanted jars filled with different thing that would be used in cooking that have a really strong smell to them, We call these our ‘smell me jars’. They contain a selection of herbs, spices, teas and coffee and the idea is to help engage all the sense in learning about the kitchen.

Our ‘smell me jars’

I was being nosy a found a cupboard so we decided to make good use of it, by filling it with interesting things for people to discover. We put in some more of our shopping finds in the cupboard, as well as some more jars filled with jams and preserves ect.

A fab selection of different bottles and jars

Mmm pickled eggs

Kate found these fantastic little vintage paper groceries bags , in several different designs. We stuffed them with tissue paper and placed the in our little cupboard as well.

Aren’t they lovely!

We have also been dressing the Cook’s sitting room, it went form a bare room to something that is starting to feel really homey. This is the room that will have some different types of interpretation to the traditional flat media. We are going to have picture frames with information about the servants that used to work at Powis, and cushions with facts on them. Again it is still a work in progress but this is where we are at currently.

A taste of comfort

Programs like ‘Downton Abbey’ and documentaries like ‘Servants – The true story of life below stairs’ (both of which I thoroughly recommend watching) have peaked the interest in areas like the kitchens. I also think the life servants lead feels more relateable to most people. We often get asked where the kitchens are when they are not open and people love to look around them. On Monday our State Rooms close and our Old Kitchens open everyday, it is a funny thing, the grandest more sumptuous rooms shut and the rooms that are designed for a practical purpose with no frills. I cannot wait to finish dressing our area and adding the interpretation, and on monday we start decoration for Christmas too. We will be very bust but it is very exciting so worth all the rushing around.