A Booke of Cookery & Housekeeping

A recipe collection that gives social historians a valuable insight into domestic life, has returned to Felbrigg Hall where it was originally created. We caught up with National Trust volunteers Bonnie and Roger, to tell us more about it…


Katherine Windham was a wealthy heiress, married to William Windham l of Felbrigg Hall. We believe that she started her collection of some 400 recipes and household remedies at the time of her marriage in 1669. By the time her book was finally collated in 1707, she had been a widow for 18 years and the mistress of Felbrigg for 38.

(c) National Trust, Felbrigg Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Katherine Windham (c) National Trust, Felbrigg Hall. Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Katherine, or any other women in her position, would probably have done little if any cooking but it was the duty of the mistress to direct the cook and supervise the running of the house.

Her recipes appear to be largely original and typical of the late Stuart period, with a number having been sourced from family members.

The book was written by Katherine and has a comprehensive list of recipes. These include; ‘artificial sturgion’, ‘potage for Lent’, details of bread and beer making and keeping bees, a list of ‘fish all sorts boyled & stewed’ and a long list of first and second course dishes for the table. At the back of the book is ‘A booke of preserving’ which contains recipes for cake and biscuit making and the drying and preserving of fruits.

Some of the recipes are revolting to modern tastes:

‘Take a calves head with ye Hair on scald it till all ye Hair is come off clean’….

Some are amusing:

From discouraging bed bugs by placing broken cucumbers around the bed and rubbing your face with lemon juice, to making Ratifie (an almond flavoured drink like a modern amaretto) when a dunghill is required!

‘To make Ratifie, Take a quart of ye best Brandy, a 100 Aprecocke Kernells 2 ounces of White Suger candy, put ym all in a Stone botle, set it in a dunghill 6 weeks, yn strain it thro a Jely bag….’

Felbrigg 1

Not for the squeamish – a remedy to cure a horse ailment:

‘Take a 120 blacke slugs & a Handfull of salt, roast ym before ye Fire & with the oyle yt comes out anoint ye horses heels’.

Earlier this year Food Historian, Ivan Day, visited Felbrigg to view Katherine’s Booke.

Here’s what he had to say:

Katherine lists a few recipes from a Mrs Houghton, the cook at Gunthorpe Hall. One of these, an unusual recipe entitled “To make Leaven Bread when you can get no yeast” is a rare example at this period for what we would now call sour dough bread.

“To dry Apels pepins” is of some local importance as this mentions Norfolk Beefing Apples. Walpole grew these in his orchards at Mannington (1698). Katherine’s recipe is the earliest I have ever seen for drying them. She even offers a primitive illustration of a sieve used to dry them in the oven. She also mentions wrapping apples in vine leaves before drying them, a practice, I have never seen before. Dried beefings were sent to London to grocer shops and there is some evidence that they were also used for victualling the Navy.


Of particular interest are Katherine’s various recipes for “Jumbals”, a knotted biscuit and “Crinkles & Shells” made of sugar paste. Katherine’s tiny sketches are the only English ones I have ever seen of these biscuits and shell shapes’.

The book is currently on loan from the Norfolk Record Office and will be on display in the Library at Felbrigg until the end of October. 


Secret Beatrix Potter drawings to go on display for the first time at Melford Hall

Hidden inside books and discovered during conservation work, a series of secret drawings by Beatrix Potter are set to go on display for the first time after they were discovered at Melford Hall

Line Drawing of Chamber Room at Melford Hall

Private Collection of Hyde-Parker Family

A regular visitor to Melford Hall and cousin to the resident Hyde Parker family, Beatrix Potter’s connections to this Suffolk house have long been known. But these drawings, never seen before, give a unique insight into the life of the artist and writer behind the series of internationally beloved children’s stories featuring characters such as Peter Rabbit.

Four delicate line drawings of scenes from both inside and outside Melford Hall are to be shown for the very first time as part of an exhibition celebrating Beatrix’s links there. The exhibition will reveal more about her interests and artistic inspirations away from the famous animal characters that brought her children’s stories to life.

Three of the drawings were discovered by Josephine Waters, the House Manager at Melford Hall, during some cleaning work. So we went along to catch up with her, here’s what she had to say:

“I was moving a bookcase together with a colleague, and whilst we were going through some of the books we discovered a drawing tucked inside, it was classic Potter style and we immediately knew it was one of hers.

“It was an absolutely spine-tingling moment, I remember all the hairs on the back of my neck stood up as we realised what we’d found. Working with a collection like this, it was a dream come true.

“This year is the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter being born, which just makes it feel even more special for us to be able to share these pictures now.”

Two more drawings were also found hidden inside books and have been in careful storage ever since. When a fourth was discovered just a few weeks ago by Lady Hyde Parker, who lives at Melford Hall with her husband, Sir Richard, they agreed to allow the National Trust to put the artworks on display.

Line Drawing North Wing Roof

Private Collection of Hyde-Parker Family

Ethel Leech, Sir Richard’s grandmother, was Beatrix Potter’s first cousin, and they were close as children whilst they both lived in Kensington. When Ethel married the Reverend Sir William Hyde Parker it was natural for the cousins’ relationship to continue.

Beatrix would regularly take extended holidays at Melford Hall between 1899-1916 and her name and doodles can be found in a number of visitor books in the house. Beatrix would always carry a camera or sketchbook with her, and would sketch, paint or photograph.


Josephine went onto say:

“We do not know the exact dates for all the drawings, but they give us a glimpse into the world of Beatrix beyond the children’s stories and help us to imagine more about who she was as a person, and particularly who she was when she was on holiday and drawing for her own entertainment.

“One of the drawings is marked as ‘unfinished’, so it certainly makes me wonder whether she would have added more to it or painted in some colour.”

Melford Hall is also home to the original Jemima Puddle-Duck toy, thought to have inspired the favourite children’s story. Jemima was a gift from Beatrix to the children in the Hyde Parker family, and she can still be seen today in the Nursey.

As well as the four previously unseen drawings, the ‘Beatrix Potter’s Melford: Holiday Sketches 1899-1916’ exhibition will include a number of other drawings she completed during her visits to Melford Hall, many of which are rarely on show.

Visitors can also discover more about how Melford Hall provided inspiration for some of the paintings found in the famous children’s stories, with chairs, fireplaces and other furniture from the hall all appearing alongside animal characters such as Squirrel Nutkin and the Tailor of Gloucester.

Melford Hall will be honouring Beatrix Potter on what would have been her birthday, with a special party inspired by the writer on Thursday July 28.

William, Ethel’s eldest son, once said “We just loved it when she arrived, for she always brought a cage with mice, another with a hamster or a porcupine.”

So young visitors to the birthday party will be able to visit a petting zoo and learn more about the animals that inspired Beatrix to write her stories. There will also be party games and goodies to take home too.

Beatrix Potter’s Melford will be opening on Wednesday July 13 and running until the last weekend of October.

Ksynia Marko, our National Specialist for Textile Conservation, has been awarded this year’s Plowden Medal

The Plowden Medal, which was established by the Royal Warrant Holders Association in memory of The Hon Anna Plowden CBE, is made annually to the person who has made the most significant recent contribution to the advancement of the conservation profession. So, we’ve been catching up with this year’s winner…

1217345Textile conservator, Ksynia Marko, with Knight with the Arms of Jean de Daillon Tapestry, Montacute House, Somerset. Photo credit: National Trust Images

Our most precious and historic textiles often pass through the hands of Ksynia Marko and a dedicated team of conservators at the Textile Conservation Studio, not far from the Blickling Estate in Norfolk.

Ksynia now joins an illustrious roll call, including last year’s winners who shared the award, Sarah Staniforth (previously the National Trust’s Museums and Collections Director) and Nancy Bell (from the National Archives).

The Selection Board considered a very strong list of candidates, and was unanimous in selecting Ksynia. Ksynia’s outstanding and invaluable contribution to textile conservation over four decades certainly stood out, including her international reputation as a practitioner, mentor and ambassador for the profession, and ability to successfully bridge the gap between institutional and private practice.

Her deep commitment to training and standards, which has raised the profile of textiles conservation in the UK and abroad, was acknowledged and she’s now considered one of the most influential textile conservators practising in the UK today.

When we caught up with Ksynia, this is what she had to say:

“I have been extremely lucky to have worked with so many talented people working on important and beautiful textiles. Our work is not only conserving the visible object, but also the memories it holds, testament to all the people involved in its inception and manufacture, from the suppliers of materials to the makers, merchants and patrons. Textiles often tell a wonderful story and provide a fascinating insight into social history.

When saving a 400 year old tapestry or a wonderful but fragile carpet, you have to be resourceful and sometimes quite brave.

Much of our work is problem solving, weighing up options and applying treatment that relies on good research and technical skill. I feel very honoured to receive the Plowden Medal for helping to preserve our textile heritage.”


An office with a view!

Working on Orford Ness brings with it the privilege of views of some spectacular landscape and coastline. This privilege also brings the hazard of getting distracted, admits Lead Ranger, David Mason…

cuckoo May 2016

My office window has a view of the marshes in the distance and, closer, a patch of bramble and grass, as well as a powerline. It can be very distracting at this time of year as many birds are actively nesting, feeding, perching and singing here.

Today, a stonechat has visited to feed on the grass and a linnet and whitethroat have been singing nearby. Other days might bring a short-eared owl or an avocet, as well as a view of the new born lambs across the field.

Some days I am not sure how I get anything done at all! We have been watching four cuckoos displaying on the bushes and powerlines around the site over the last few weeks.

It is a rare privilege to see these birds as well as hear their evocative call. It has been a bit frustrating trying to take a decent photo though, as they don’t sit still for long and are soon mobbed by small birds trying to chase them away as they try to lay eggs in the nests of meadow pipits, reed buntings and various warblers.

cuckoo2 May 2016

Our dedicated group of bird ringers produced the goods however and even caught one in their ringing nets, which is no mean feat either as they are often difficult to catch as well.
The Ringers, who are licensed by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), carefully apply lightweight metal rings to the bird’s leg. This can reveal useful information about the bird’s movements when it is recovered.

As technology has advanced, new methods of tracking have been developed, which has parallels with the testing and use of telemetry and radar once carried out here at Orford Ness.

The BTO have been carrying out a programme of tagging cuckoos and other birds with electronic tags and tracking these with satellites. They have found that cuckoos follow migratory corridors on their arduous 6,000 mile journeys from the rainforests of the Congo to their summer breeding grounds in the UK.

They have also identified autumn and spring stopover areas within Europe that provide critical resources for the cuckoos as they migrate. This helps identify migratory corridors and key habitats that are vital for cuckoos and other birds and can help other conservationists determine what needs to be done to help protect them throughout their journey.

The BTO have also been tracking the movements of lesser black-backed gulls on Orford Ness using this technology for some while, although not on cuckoos from the Ness as yet.

To find out more about their work with cuckoos, click here for some more detailed information. There is even a Cuckoo called Dave!

Digital technology brings historic tapestries back to Oxburgh

Work has begun to digitally re-create the tapestries that would have once hung in the King’s Room at Oxburgh Hall, returning it to its former ‘Romantic’ appearance.

Edward looking at the tapestry (c) National Trust Morgan Creed

We’re now working with tapestry replication specialists, Zardi & Zardi, who were responsible for the tapestry reproductions featured in the BBCs award winning historical drama Wolf Hall. With the first of the new tapestries now on display in the King’s Room at Oxburgh, several more will be added over the course of the year.

The tapestries, which look authentic, are in fact photographs that have been printed on linen, which has the same weighting and weave as the originals.

Close up of the tapestry reproduction (c) National Trust Morgan Creed

We caught up with Edward Bartlett, House Manager at Oxburgh Hall:

“Owing to the very high-resolution of photography involved, every stitch and every shadow of every stitch can be seen, which makes it very hard not to believe it’s an original part of the collection.

“When the 6th Baronet inherited Oxburgh Hall in the 19th century it was in a poor state of repair. His ancestors had been heavily fined for generations, persecuted for their staunch Catholic faith. However, Sir Henry’s arrival, timed with the relaxation of attitudes to Catholicism, the height of the Gothic revival and his passion for the past, led to the transformation of Oxburgh.

“He furnished the King’s Room with textiles and furniture to commemorate the visit of King Henry VII and his queen, Elizabeth of York, in 1487. He adorned the walls with 16th century ‘heirloom’ tapestries and dressed the bed with embroidered 16th century hangings, worked by Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick, creating perhaps the most important ‘Romantic’ interior at Oxburgh.”

The embroidered hangings remain on display at Oxburgh, but unfortunately the tapestries were sold in the 1920s.

Edward was joined by National Trust Curator, Anna Forrest, to carry out the painstaking research into the lost tapestries and to help inform the creation of the new ones.

Anna added:

“After poring over 19th century watercolours and sepia photographs from the archives it became apparent that the tapestries that originally hung at Oxburgh fell into two categories. Those that were early 16th century South Netherlandish scenes depicting kings, queens and courtly life, or those from the late 16th and 17th century that depicted ‘verdure’ and game parks. Our research also revealed that these tapestries were in fact a patchwork of tapestry scenes.”

The first tapestry to be rehung in the King's Room at Oxburgh (c) National Trust Morgan Creed

Look out for the tapestries when you next visit Oxburgh Hall. Will you be able to tell the difference between an original and these re-productions?

Estate walk renamed in honour of Head Ranger

After 30 years with the National Trust and 26 years looking after Blickling’s 4,500 acre estate, Head Ranger Dave Brady has hung up his work boots for the last time. Now his achievements and dedication to Blickling will be forever remembered as the estate’s longest waymarked walk is re-named ‘Brady’s Walk’ in his honour.

imageDave Brady – photo courtesy of Eastern Daily Press, Antony Kelly

Dave joined the Blickling team in 1990 and since then has worked tirelessly to conserve the beautiful historic landscape and the abundant and diverse wildlife that it offers a home to.

Dave’s achievements over two and a half decades at Blickling are far-reaching. They include his award-winning work on the River Bure restoration for which the countryside team received the Wild Trout Trust and Orvis Conservation awards; as well as restoring the historic woodland areas of Kingshot Copse and Hyde Park, and reverting Tower Park from agriculture to grassland.

His dedication to conservation and wildlife has been inspirational and he has worked tirelessly to increase the diversification and abundance of native species across the estate. This can be clearly seen in the breath-taking swathes of bluebells that sweep across the park every year in May.

Blickling-lo-1The Great Wood at Blickling – photo courtesy of Justin Minns

Dave says that one of his most rewarding pieces of work was working with a group of young students who were on the brink of expulsion from school.

“I found that working with them on the estate and teaching them basic skills helped them to think differently and to feel like they had some value. This was hugely rewarding for me.”

Dave Brady

In fact his work with them was so successful he went on to be nationally awarded and recognised as ‘a vocational ambassador working with schools’.

Inspired by the map of the estate created from the survey carried out by James Corbridge in 1729, Dave has always seen how Blickling’s parkland, house and gardens fit together as one estate and is passionate that this holistic view of Blickling continues.

It is perhaps very apt then, that another of Dave’s retirement presents was a beautiful reproduction of the Corbridge map in a handcrafted frame made from wood from his beloved Blickling Estate. But the gift that visibly moved him was without a doubt the honour of having the estate walk dedicated to him. “It is such a big compliment” he said “you never feel like you deserve it!”

His incredible knowledge and dedication will be missed by everyone here at Blickling. Renaming the estate walk is the perfect way to honour and thank Dave for everything he has done. We wish him all the best on his retirement.

Stopping the countdown to catastrophe for world heritage

Today a globally-renowned heritage leader will warn that apathy towards our world heritage poses a greater risk to it than climate change, war and conflict or natural disasters.

The mounds at Sutton Hoo at sunsetThe mounds at Sutton Hoo – Photo credit Justin Minns

In her first major speech as head of the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO), Dame Fiona Reynolds,  former Director-General of the National Trust and Master of Emmanuel College Cambridge, will outline her stark warning on World Heritage Day. In the speech she will also call for a global commitment to a ten-year plan to increase awareness of the social, spiritual and economic value of international heritage sites

Dame Fiona will highlight in her speech the imminent threats to world heritage and the role that the world’s biggest and broadest heritage membership group can have in saving it.

She will call for UNESCO, WWF and others to join with INTO to commit to a 2025 strategy that will both highlight the benefits of a thriving heritage sector and look at innovative ways to help countries and territories tackle threats on the ground.

“Our INTO members are the canaries in the coal mine. From Fiji to South Korea and Canada to Uganda, our member organisations defend some of the world’s most special places. They are the ones who can see every day and at first hand the effects of climate change, bad planning and apathy towards heritage.

“I asked all of our 66 member organisations that constitute INTO across the world what they saw as the greatest threat to world heritage. I expected climate change, war and conflict or even tourism to be their response. But there was one resounding and clear answer from them – apathy on behalf of both governments and people”.

Dame Fiona Reynolds

World Heritage status is very important but only the tip of the iceberg – less than one per cent of the earth’s surface is designated a World Heritage Site. Even then a recent WWF report showed that half of our natural world heritage sites are under threat from development and exploitation. These are the most notable heritage sites on the planet:  if we can’t protect them, what on earth is going to happen to the rest?

The danger is clear. Unless we act and work towards significantly changing public and official attitudes to heritage, then by 2025, largely through neglect and apathy, we risk letting a large proportion of our built and natural heritage disappear.

Wimpole-lo-70Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire – photo credit Justin Minns

Examples from across the INTO network:

Martindale Hall, South Australia
Entrusted to the nation by a donor in the 1950, the future of Martindale Hall, South Australia, has been in doubt for the past few months as the local government decided to sell it off to a property developer. Inspired by their visit to Wimpole Hall during the INTO conference last year, the National Trust of South Australia is about to start working together with the international National Trust movement on finding a viable future for the property as a heritage-based tourism attraction utilising the buildings and grounds to create a unique destination celebrating its cultural and agricultural heritage.

Merdeka Stadium, Malaysia

When Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, proclaimed Malaysian Independence on 31st August 1957, he stood in the middle of the Stadium field and shouted out “Merdeka” seven times. This scene, often shown on film and in print, is etched on the psyche of all Malaysians. Nevertheless the stadium was nearly demolished in the 1990s. It was the National Trust, Badan Warisan Malaysia, that was able to help save Merdeka as part of a public-private partnership and today the stadium has a new lease of life for sporting events and concerts alongside “The Road to Nationhood” museum.

Plémont, Jersey

The Trust has been fighting for years to address coastal blight. Since the 1930s, the coast at Plémont had been scarred with the development of a series of holiday camps. When such holidays went into decline the site became vulnerable to redevelopment proposals commencing with an application in 1998 for 117 residential units.

In January 2000, The National Trust for Jersey (NTJ) began campaigning for the site to be “returned to nature”.  Eventually the ‘Love Plemont’ project – after many ups and downs – resulted in the safeguarding of 11.3 acres of coastal headland in 2014 which is now slowly being returned to nature.

Bickenbach country house, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Sdenka Fuertes, a young Bolivian architect, received death threats when trying to save and protect the Bickenbach country house in Cochabamba.  Built in the Moorish style for the German family of Ernesto Bickenbach, the house and its garden setting became neglected and at risk of redevelopment. After a lengthy and menacing battle, the Bolivian Society for Historical Studies, Heritage and Restoration lobbied for the house to be expropriated and put to cultural use for the benefit of the city. The society also successfully used ICOMOS’s 1981 Florence Charter to argue that the historic garden could not be separated from the house which accompanies it and have managed to keep the site intact for future generations.

National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Four years ago, the National Trust ran a successful campaign against the government’s plans to unpick England’s planning legislation. The threat has not gone away however and the planning system is still in jeopardy today. The Trust is worried about a great raft of government initiatives which threaten to undermine some of the changes won back in 2012, such as the pressure on Green Belts to be allocated for housing (Christchurch has reduced theirs by 6% and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne by 9%) and the incorrect application of policies designed to protect Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (including the recent decision to grant permission for the huge potash mine in the North York Moors national park).

Back in 1907, Sir Robert Hunter, one of the National Trust’s founders, expressed what he saw as the Trust’s role within the broader debate on land use. He talks about the efforts of all three founders to influence parliamentary bills proposing development on common land or the construction of railways through areas such as Snowdonia and the Lake District and comments on the young National Trust that ‘Its work is by no means confined to the purchase of Places of Interest and Beauty. It fosters action to protect such Places, to ward disaster and to stimulate municipal and private opinion’.

Czech National Trust

“The Communist era was damaging to heritage in Czechoslovakia. It left properties uncared for and instilled in people a feeling that heritage had nothing to do with them, it was for the state to care. The big challenge is to reconnect people with their heritage and restart a culture of volunteering” says Chairman, Dr Irena Edwards.

Facts and figures:

  • 45% of local authorities are considering selling or passing on management of green space to others (State of UK Public Parks, Heritage Lottery Fund, 2014)
  • 90% of trendy bars and restaurants of the five major US cities are in historic buildings (National Trust for Historic Preservation)
  • Canadians have lost more than 20% of their heritage places in the last 30 years (National Trust for Canada)
  • Twenty rural villages are destroyed by developers every day (Ruan Yisan Heritage Foundation, China)


Wimpole’s Gothic Tower among EU prize winners for cultural heritage

The recently restored 18th century Gothic Tower at Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire is among the winners of the 2016 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s highest honour in the heritage field.

WimpoleFolly-lo-10 (1)Photo credit: Justin Minns

The Awards recognise exemplary achievements in the categories of conservation, research, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising.

Wimpole’s Gothic Tower, which we’ve talked about on our blog last year, is one of only two UK winners in the ‘Conservation’ category of the Awards, which were revealed today by the European Commission and Europa Nostra.

The Gothic Tower, designed to look like a picturesque medieval ruin, is based on a sketch by the architect Sanderson Miller in 1749 for his patron, Lord Hardwicke, the owner of Wimpole.

The design was later realised in an amended form under the supervision of the great landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown from 1768-72.

In the following centuries, the ruin suffered extensive and gradual damage with many important characteristics being completely eroded while public access to the Tower and landscape was near enough impossible.

Located in the magnificent parkland of Wimpole Estate, the Gothic Tower presented a complex conservation challenge for us here at the National Trust. The work called for repair of the structure, stabilization of the stonework and reinstatement of missing components of the building, while preserving the weathered beauty and original ‘ruined’ appearance.

The completion of the project means that visitors can now explore the Tower and surrounding area and enjoy magnificent views across the estate once more.

Photo credit: Justin Minns

Here’s what Wendy Monkhouse, National Trust Curator in the East of England had to say:

“We’re delighted to have been recognized by the European Commission and Europa Nostra for the work we’ve done on the Gothic Tower – it’s the most prestigious heritage award in Europe, and it means a lot to the National Trust and to the staff and volunteers at Wimpole.

“The success of the project has been achieved by understanding the building and its needs, painstaking research, and meticulous attention to detail, to enable a stone by stone conservation to be undertaken. This standard of conservation was made possible by funding managed by Natural England, some special bequests to the National Trust, and the support from our members.

“Many people know and love the magnificent mansion and the 18th century farm, but the Tower was an almost forgotten ruin – a kind of sleeping beauty, literally surrounded by briar roses and nettles. Now, with its reinstated crenellations triumphant on the main Tower, it sits once more at the focal point of the landscape designed by Capability Brown, whose tercentenary we are celebrating this year.”

In assessing Wimpole’s Gothic Tower, the Awards jury commented: “Intellectually, this project raises questions about the preservation of a designed ruin and inspires thought about the nature of conservation. It is informed by detailed research and archaeological recordings and is a model of cooperative endeavor. This is an extraordinary example of a restoration of an iconic ruin which has served as an example for the construction of similar structures in Europe.”

Wimpole Hall and estae - restoration work on Folly. Photo : NT/Phil Mynott
Photo credit: Phil Mynott

For the 2016 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, independent expert juries assessed a total of 187 applications, submitted by organisations and individuals from 36 countries across Europe, and selected the winners.

The other projects from the UK that won awards this year were: in the Conservation category, the Knockando Woolmill in Aberlour, Moray; in the Research category, the Prehistoric Picture Project. Pitoti: Digital Rock-Art, Cambridge; and in the Education, Training and Awareness-Raising, the programme ‘Heritage Schools’, Bristol.

Along with the other 27 award winners, Wimpole’s Gothic Tower will be further considered for one of seven Grand Prix awards along with one chosen in a public vote. Members of the public can now vote online for the Public Choice Award to support their favourite project. The Grand Prix and Public Choice Awards will be announced as part of a high-profile event celebrating the winners on 24 May in Madrid.

Panes-taking operation at Felbrigg


Over the winter, stained glass panels from the west window in the Great Hall at Felbrigg were removed and sent away for conservation. We’ve also been conserving the curtain pelmets in the Dining Room. Now it’s time for their return.

Felbrigg glass conservation (credit) Paul Bailey

We caught up with Louise Green, the House Manager at Felbrigg Hall…

The Great Hall stained glass

IA detail of the stained glass panel, The Apostles, at St Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich, on loan from Felbrigg Hall.n the 1840s William Howe Windham renovated the Great Hall and in doing so introduced a beautiful collection of stained glass. The majority of which was made and installed by John Dixon, who was also employed at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich, which is not only where he got his inspiration, but some of the original 15th century panels.

This winter it got to a stage where essential conservation work was needed to ensure their survival, so we called upon stained glass specialists Jonathan and Ruth Cooke to help us. They’ve managed to stabilise the lead work to keep the stained glass secure. They’ve also cleaned the glass where necessary in order to reveal the original beauty and delicacy of the design that previously had been hidden under years of accumulated dirt.

Conserving Felbrigg’s pelmets

As well as conservation work to the window’s, you can also watch this short video, which follows our 18 month conservation project of the pelmets and curtains that now hang in the Drawing Room here at Felbrigg Hall. Over time the silk damask had become damaged by light and needed stabilising, new linings have been added, damaged wooden baubles replaced and the curtains cleaned.

It’s thanks to the support of our members that we’ve been able to carry out this work. We can’t wait to show you the newly conserved glass and pelmets on your next visit to Felbrigg.

Photos courtesy of Paul Bailey and Pete Huggins

Lift off at Horsey Windpump!

This week we kicked off an ambitious and exciting three phase restoration project at Horsey that will not only see the sails replaced, but aims to restore the Windpump to full working order.

Horsey-lo-34 (1)All images courtesy of Justin Minns

Alex Green, from the Horsey team talked to us about the project…

Two years ago the sails were removed from Horsey Windpump after they become rotten and started to fall apart. Now work will begin to bring this Windpump back to life, a stepping-stone towards getting her fully operational and working in the Norfolk landscape once more.

The current cap from which the sails were removed has also rotten and this was removed from the top of the tower by a sixty tonne crane on Wednesday. It’s been placed on the ground beside it, ready to be loaded onto a lorry and transported to our millwright’s workshop.


Over the course of the next year, the cap and structure will be repaired and conserved, with the sails re-made to a historic pattern.

“Horsey Windpump is an important part of our industrial heritage and as a charity the National Trust believes that we should protect and conserve our special and historic places.”

John Sizer, General Manager for Horsey Windpump

The Windpump was the last to be built in the Broads in 1912, by the famous Ludham millwright Dan England. It was built on the site of an earlier ‘Black Mill’ and has a dramatic history that includes flooding and lightning strikes.


Before the lift took place, we used sophisticated monitoring equipment to constantly monitor the building as there was a concern it had a lean. We now know that in the sunshine the building leans over half a degree, but when it cools down it moves back again. As much as we could plan for the lift of the cap, we couldn’t predict what impact the removal of its weight would have on the structure. So it was a delicate process and the operation was carried out slowly and with the upmost care.

“The principals involved in taking a mill cap down are quite simple, however the reason for taking them down is usually rotten timbers, so each mill varies considerably and my plans on where to lift could easily change on the day.”

Tim Whiting, the project’s millwright

There are always problems that don’t show themselves until after the work has started and lifting the cap off can uncover all sorts of unknown issues but we are always prepared for this. However, the biggest worry is always weather, we needed wind of ten miles per hour or less to be happy. And of course no rain.


The National Trust has committed to spending £244,000 to complete phase one which will see the cap and sails reinstated. The new cap will rotate to face the sails into the wind giving a different view of Horsey Windpump every single day. You can follow our progress here.