Learning from the experts

A busy September here in the house – we’ve organised several specialists to give workshops for our guides and staff, as part of our ongoing desire to continually learn more about the collections we possess. Firstly, Josh Lumley, our resident carpet expert and restorer gave us a fascinating education on Godinton’s carpets. Without wishing to give away all the details, the vast majority are 19th century Persian carpets, probably bought for the house in the 1950s. The amount of time and manpower that went into the creation of these huge carpets is phenomenal – many of them would have taken multiple people several years to weave. Josh will return once we close for the winter to take away a couple of our runners and carpets for repair.

The following week, we welcomed Sarah Flynn, of Cheffins Cambridge, to talk to us about our picture collection. Amongst the large number of paintings at Godinton, there are many portraits of the families who once lived here – right back to Captain Nicholas Toke in the 1620s to a posthumous portrait of Godinton’s last owner, Alan Wyndham Grün. The collaborative session allowed staff and guides to learn a more about paintings, and focus in on some of the pictures that often get glossed over, as well as having discussions about possible sitters, attributions and histories. In the same week, I also had the chance to attend a Conservation in Action Day at Ightham Mote, where I got some hands on experience cleaning and caring for some of the paintings in their collection.

As a newcomer, these workshops were an excellent chance for me to learn lots more about our collections in depth. The sessions have also highlighted areas that need further research, which I am looking forward to getting into as the winter season begins…