| In terms of impact, design and architectural innovation, there is nothing like a Lutyens building, but they can be problematic in practical terms. Iconic National Trust owned Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island is in need of major building work to ensure the long term preservation of the building structure and the collections inside. But those precious collections have to be moved to safety first.
Hog & Fitch helped the Trust with this major collections move, in particular with setting up and organising a temporary storage area for the whole collection where it could be safely cared for during the building work.
Furniture always seems to grow when it comes out of its natural environment, especially when that environment is a rather substantial castle on its own island. When he designed giant armoires and tables, Lutyens most certainly wasn't thinking about the problems National Trust staff would face trying to move it out of the castle so many years later!
The furniture is large but the stairs are steep - and it's not even possible to get a vehicle right up to the entrance. Pieces like the stunning 3.5 metre long table made from a single piece of walnut had not left the castle before. What a good thing we'd done so much painstaking advance planning and measuring to see how things would fit in the new storage area. Otherwise we'd have had a complete log jam of dismantled large objects when they started to arrive.
Builders had been preparing the space, so there was some pretty intensive dust removal before we started, followed by work with the Conservator and Volunteers to create shelf and room plans that would enable every object to be found. The teams in the Castle did a wonderful job, packing and documenting everything to the Conservator's exacting standards.
We really enjoyed helping with the process of dismantling and documenting large beds and armoires. Looking at the structure and detail at such close quarters is always a delight.
At the store, we worked with some truly dedicated volunteers to fit everything in, protect it, document it - and organise the space to fit with the property's evacuation priorities in the event of an emergency.
It was an absolute pleasure to work with National Trust staff and volunteers from across the North East on this project. The Trust draws on years of invaluable experience of this kind of work but recognises that every single project is different. Environment, local factors (the tides, in particular come to mind), the practicalities of access (how awkward some of those turns and stairs were!) and the individual idiosyncracies of the collection pieces mean that every single project faces its unique challenges. Problem solving is an essential - and the satisfaction when it goes well is immense.
What a challenging and enjoyable project this has been! We were really pleased to receive this testimonial from John Wynn Griffiths, ACR, National Trust Regional Conservator North:
'A significant part of the Lindisfarne Castle project was the cleaning, packing and removal of the collections, and of course their safe storage. Hog and Fitch were invaluable in this work. They prepared the storage area in advance of the collections arriving, worked closely with the volunteers and staff from different properties, who were cleaning, packing and documenting the collections, and supported the careful documentation of the work throughout. It was a great help to know that they were organising and managing the storage end of the project.'
Main header image: checking items on racks in store
Main page images from top: preparing dust protection in store; bed prior to dismantling and moving; moving one of the large armoires into its storage position; fitting shelf edge protection; dust protection for large tables; tamping carpets to remove deeply ingrained dirt; rolling carpets for storage; dust protection for chairs; packing and documenting; dust protection Images by Hog & Fitch, reproduced by permission of National Trust.