10 May 2024 | News

News from Hill Top: Conservation in Action

Last month, volunteers at Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s beloved cottage home, attended a training session for those interested in doing ‘Conservation in Action’ demonstrations for visitors this upcoming summer.  Volunteers learned how conservators approach the wet cleaning of very old, glazed ceramics. To begin the process, they practiced on a large platter that is displayed in the parlor bookcase at Hill Top.

The two main ingredients used were de-ionised water and synparonic A7, a specially formulated washing liquid used by conservators.  The results were amazing! Before cleaning the platter, it looked quite clean. But when volunteers gently rubbed the surface with white cotton swabs dipped in synparonic A7, the platter immediately became brighter – and the white cotton swabs turned rather grey.  As the photo shows, they divided the platter in sections to ensure that all areas were evenly cleaned.

Even though the swabs turned grey, we can ensure that cleaning is never neglected at Hill Top. Handling of old ceramics is best kept to a minimum, especially when cracks and fine lines exist in the glazing. Gilt edging and any repaired areas are best left untouched.  Occasional light dusting with super soft brushes is generally adequate, with wet washing recommended just once every two or three years.  In this case, the adage ‘do no harm’ comes to mind!

The purpose of conservation efforts such as these is to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy seeing ceramic objects that were treasured by Beatrix Potter, and we can’t thank the National Trust and the staff and volunteers at Hill Top enough for their wonderful work caring for Beatrix Potter’s home and artifacts.

You can learn more about visiting Hill Top here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/lake-district/hill-top 

Skip to content