AIM Pilgrim Trust collections care audit – Ushaw Historic House, Chapel & Gardens

Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens holds a significant mixed collection of religious artefacts, textiles, fine art, furniture, and library and archive. From 1808-2011 it operated as a Roman Catholic Seminary, the former St Cuthbert’s College, but on the seminary’s closure the trust has re-invigorated the site into a multipurpose heritage attraction. Thus, it has only started to organise its historic collections to museum standards in this past decade. Much has been achieved in this time, but the opportunity presented by the AIM Pilgrim Trust grants to fund a collections audit, has significantly helped Ushaw plan the next stages of our collections care.

The process of applying was straightforward and staff from AIM could not be more helpful. The results of the audit has helped us confirm what our successes are and identify the priorities for collections care going forward. In particular, it has helped form a strategic plan for the set-up of our permanent collections stores.

The audit definitely achieved the expected outcomes. It provided specific advice about different areas of our collections such as store layouts, storage options, cleaning, preventative conservation and emergency planning, and subsequent information about where to source the materials required to achieve the desired standard of collections care.

The conservator Victoria Stevens was a pleasure to work with and provided excellent advice for Ushaw’s unique challenges. We will continue to maintain contact with Victoria. Her knowledge and experience was of huge benefit to the organisation, her previous experience of working with religious artefacts in collections meant that she had a grasp of the complications surrounding the care of such complex items.

Claire Marsland, Curator, Ushaw Historic House

Pictured: Chapel Holy Family at Ushaw Historic House