Tria Juncto in Uno

box

In the Attic, in a black metal container, the volunteers at Scotney Castle discovered what can only be described as ‘an exhibition in a box’. The box contained the First World War diaries of Brigadier General Arthur Hussey, who was third son of Edward Hussey III. Along with his diaries dating from 1914-1919, the box also contained letters, photos and medals, which have all been put on display in the exhibition ‘Arthur’s War’.

On Sunday 21th February 1915, Arthur Hussey wrote in his war diaries that he had “heard about my C.B.”, that he would receive the honour of becoming a Companion of The Order of the Bath. Later in the year, on Monday 12th July 1915 he went to Buckingham Palace and was invested with the C.B. by His Majesty”.

order of the bath

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath was established by George I on the 18th May 1725 as a military order. This was a revived version of an older custom dating back to medieval times when part of the ceremony of knighthood included a ritual bath, with the earliest official document of the bathing and creation of a knight dating back to 1128. The revived order consisted of the Sovereign, a Great Master and 36 Knights Companions. In 1815 the Order was then enlarged to include three classes of knights: the Knights Grand Cross, Knights Commander and Companions. Further changes included the addition of a civil section of Knights Commander and Companions in 1847 as well women being admitted to the Order in 1971.

The Order of Bath is mainly awarded to officers in the Armed Services, with numbers being increased in times of war or for recognition of services in military events. Brigadier General Arthur Hussey was awarded the position of Companion, which is for ranked officers who have been mentioned in despatches for distinction in a command position in a combat situation.

The military badge consists of a gold Maltese Cross, enamelled in white. Each of the eight points is decorated with a small gold ball, with a figure of a lion in between each arm of the cross. In the centre of the cross are three crowns which refers to the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland which is again emphasised on the obverse with the representation of a rose, a thistle and a shamrock issuing from a sceptre. The crowns and the symbols of these three countries are also highlighted in the motto written around the red circular ring: Tria Juncta in Uno-‘Three joined in One’.

As well as having Arthur’s Order of the Bath on display in the exhibition, we also have his miniature medals. Arthur Hussey was a seasoned soldier entering the First World War at the age of 51, his miniatures therefore show his previous military awards from various countries as well as those received for his efforts in the First World War.

From left to right we have: The Order of Bath; Order of St Michael and St George; South Africa Campaign Medal 1902; 1914 Star; British War Medal 1914-1920; Allied Victory Medal 1914-1919; Coronation Medal King George V 1911; Order of Prince Danilo I (Montenegro); and the Order of St Maurice and St Lazerus (Italy).

minatures medal

The exhibition Arthur’s War which shows a very personal viewpoint of one man’s experience of the First World War is running until the 22nd March 2015, and with more letters having only recently been discovered Brigadier General Arthur Hussey is sure to make reappearance at Scotney Castle. The exhibition like the motto on the medal Tria Juncto in Uno ‘Three joined in One’ has three perspectives to offer: the everyday factual diary of events from Arthur’s tour of duty; the personal letters written to his sister Gertrude and finally what is revealed about Arthur Hussey as a person- a distinguished soldier and loving brother.

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Look down, look down, show mercy if you can

Scraped floor 2

You may have seen signs saying ‘Don’t walk on the grass’ or maybe the National Trust favourite of placing pinecones on furniture as a discreet warning not to sit on the collection but you never see a sign saying ‘Don’t walk on the floor’- perhaps you should…

Of all the objects in the collection, an historic floor is the most used and abused. The floors suffer the weight of heavy furniture, thousands of pairs of feet, as well as abrasion and soiling caused by grit and mud being brought in on the soles of people’s shoes. The floors of any National Trust property are also part of the collection and have to be maintained, protected and conserved just like any painting, textile or ceramic.

The wooden floors on the ground floor of the New House at Scotney Castle are parquet flooring, made from square blocks laid out in a geometric design. The parquet floor in the Hall, Garden Lobby and Dining Room are original to the House, installed in the 1840s. This wooden flooring, supplied from Germany, was recommended to the Edward Hussey III by Lord De La Warr. The parquet floors in the adjoining Study and Library date to 1904 and were installed by Howard and Sons, London. The floors therefore are highly significant, from the original parquet flooring from the design of the House, to any subsequent changes by family members adding to the story of the building and possible changes in the purposes of the rooms. So what precautions do we put in place to help look after these historic floors?

Scotney Castle has approximately 90,000 visitors coming around the New House every year, that’s a lot of pairs of feet bringing in mud, grit and causing general abrasion to the floors. There are a few preventative measures that can be used to stop some of the dirt coming into the house, starting outside the front door.

Front door

Historic fixtures such as boot scrapers and brushes were put outside the doors of properties to clean people’s shoes, an historic fixture which is still in use today. Next in the line of defence is a coconut mat, another historic housekeeping fixture to take the grit off of shoes.

Once inside the House, we have strips of protective carpets known as druggets, which are long strips of matting which provides protection for the floor as well as indicating a visitor route. We also have what we call sacrificial carpets, which are possible reproductions or have been brought in with the idea that they can be replaced when needed. Research carried out for the National Trust has shown that it takes approximately up to 3 metres of carpet to remove grit from the bottom of visitor’s shoes! However, from personal experience, this seems to be a bit on the conservative side as on a daily basis the House team have to hoover bits of stone up from all over the ground floor and even up the staircase.

Druggets

However, even with all these mats and druggets, not all the floors can be covered and there are exposed parts of floors especially at doorways that are in danger of damage. Another preventative method that can help create a layer of protection is waxing the floors. Wax is applied by hand at Scotney for these small areas, working in circular movements to cover the wood and protect the grain. We then leave the wax overnight and buff it in the morning, as the saying goes- wax on, wax off. We will then apply more wax when needed, particularly when we notice the wood getting dry and becoming worn.

Waxing floors

So the next time you walk into a National Trust property, before you become inspired and overwhelmed by amazing paintings and furniture, don’t forget to look down for a moment at what will be some original and fascinating floors with their own unique story to tell.

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KITCHEN SCENE – JOACHIM BEUCKELAER (1534-1574)

Kitchen scene

Since 1915, the buxom kitchen maid has looked pensively upon the Dining Room of Scotney Castle; is she daunted at the prospect of what to cook or is she wondering how to store this amazing produce? Art is never this simple and within Beuckelaer’s many works of kitchen and market scenes, there is a hidden world of messages and meanings to be picked out and understood.

Beuckelaer was born in Antwerp and honed his artistic skills under the mentorship of his uncle Peiter Aertsen. We have to take into account the context of Beuckelaer’s work; the political, economic and theological turmoil of the times in order to better understand what is going on in this painting. Prior to Beuckelaer’s era the majority of art was of a divine or religious genre. So, when Beuckelaer began producing kitchen scenes, experts of the time didn’t consider ‘still life’ to be art in the true sense of the word. However, things were changing at a rapid rate as the Renaissance period began to take hold and changes were afoot, particularly for Beuckelaer and the low countries of the Netherlands.

Spain ruled the Netherlands, however, by 1566 a revolt took place; Protestants began religious riots against Spanish Catholicism with the destruction of places of worship. Eventually, in 1574, William of Orange drove the Spanish from the Netherlands and the beginnings of the Dutch Republic began to emerge.  

So here we have a painting that bucks the trend of all previously acceptable notions of art. Beuckelaer’s food is so realistic that you could almost pick the fruit from the painting or peel a couple of carrots for dinner. His clever use of light shows glass tumblers (expensive items of the time) one of which has been tossed on its side indicating a fragility between the two messages within the work; the divine moral depiction alongside the temptation of everyday life. He draws our eye to the foreground where he has strategically placed a mere kitchen maid to be the prime focal point of our attention. In earlier art forms, working people were often caricatured but Beuckelaer takes the theme of everyday folk and gives them prominence and dignity. He shows a working girl, her sleeves rolled up ready to tackle the preparation and cooking of the venison joint. Next to this are several lemons, which at the time, were an exotic luxury and the maid is resting her hand on a large cabbage, why? According to some experts, the humble cabbage is thought to symbolise excessive luxury and expense. The food in the painting gives rise to thoughts of over indulgence or gluttony and when one considers that Beuckelaer’s work was commissioned by wealthy Italian merchants, it makes sense that they would wish to have their wealth and power on display.

Beuckelaer would make tracings of particular objects in paintings that enabled him to incorporate them into new works and thus increase production; he and his associates were able to flood the art market with works of this genre but he made very little money during his short life.

Scotney’s Kitchen Scene contains objects used by Beuckelaer in other commisions namely The Four Elements held at the National Gallery, London. A crucial factor within this painting is how the biblical message of Martha and Mary has been relegated to the background. Beuckelaer was among a growing band of Humanist painters but perhaps it might have been a step too far not to indulge his appreciative viewers with a divine or moral message, after all it was what society had been used to for centuries. Mary represents the Catholic contemplative aspect to life as she listens attentively to Jesus while Martha, who has been busy preparing dinner in the kitchen, gets fed up and complains to Jesus about Mary’s laziness; Martha represents action and salvation.

So, here we have a painting that reveals wealth and opulence against a backdrop of religious turmoil and economic change. The literary and cultural growth of a world where fish sellers, kitchen staff, grocers and merchant traders are beginning to have an influential role in the emergence of a new Europe, while the virgin worlds of the East and West Indies reveal new and desirable treasures to a growing global consumer market.

I like to think of Beuckelaer’s kitchen as a metaphor for living life to the full, our own mortality waiting just around the corner; as for Beuckelaer’s genius, the following inscription says it all:                       

C.74.d.6.(2.)

“This Man painted for a meagre reward, while life remained (to him). But his pictures have no meagre glory, whose paintings and kitchens we honour after his death. Nor is this surprising. A learned kitchen pleases many.”

Lesley McCall

Conservation Assistant

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Hedge Laying

Whilst the house team tackles the world of mould, the complexities of the sandstone and celebrates a fantastic World War One feature, the estate rangers have tackled the world of blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel and celebrated a wonderful day with the South East England Hedge Laying Society (SEHLS).

Hedge Laying on the Scotney Castle Esate

Hedge Laying on the Scotney Castle , Tilers Field, Parkland Trail. SEHLS held a training day at Scotney Castle, and some of the Ranger team came along to learn.

What is hedge laying? – It is when an existing hedge line, having been allowed to grow for at least 12 years, is laid to rejuvenate the trees and shrubs in the hedge and reinstate it’s function as a stock boundary. Each individual living stem to partially severed (or pleached) with a range of hand (or sometimes power) tools, and placed up hill in the same direction.

Here is a volunteer, Tony, using tools to pleach the stems so that they can be laid up the hill. Enough is left attached to ensure the tree survives...

Here is a volunteer, Tony, using tools to pleach the stems so that they can be laid up the hill. Enough is left attached to ensure the tree survives…

Why hedge lay? – Across the country hedges are managed in different ways. Some are neglected, some are flailed with a tractor, some are grubbed out, whilst some are still laid in traditional ways. Laying is proven to be the best stock proof barrier as the stems are laid along the ground, then on top of each other, preventing any gaps in the line. To be extra secure the hedge is also staked every 18″ and binders are wrapped through the stakes to give the height back. It is in fact better than a wire fence because the thorns in the hedge deter stock from trying to break through.

Here you can compare a part of laid hedge, with a part that has only been flail cut over the years. Which one has less gaps and therefore a better stock barrier?

Here you can compare a part of laid hedge, with a part that has only been flail cut over the years. Which one has less gaps and therefore a better stock barrier?

Are there wildlife benefits of hedge-laying? – Yes there are many. Hedges are great wildlife corridors and sources of food for many insects, birds and mammals. The thicker the better, the thornier the better, the more shrub species the better as this provides great shelter for wildlife. Hedge laying encourages all of this. Dormice, Whitethroats, Brown Hairstreaks, Great Crested Newts and Stag beetles are just a few species that thrive in a hedgerow landscape. For more information go to http://www.hedgelink.org.uk/wildlife-and-hedgerows.htm.

A Whitethroat is a summer migrant that nests deep in thickets or hedgerows, but the male will sing and display on the top of the hedge during courtship.

A Whitethroat is a summer migrant that nests deep in thickets or hedgerows, but the male will sing and display on the top of the hedge during courtship.

SEHLS have there own website which (http://sehls.weebly.com/) where more can be found out about the history of the society and the benefits of hedge laying.

Here is more of the day in pictures:

A quick smile for the camera... Tony and Paul.

A quick smile for the camera… Tony and Paul.

SEHLS experts show the Scotney rangers what to do, we certainly learnt a lot that day...

SEHLS experts show the Scotney rangers what to do, we certainly learnt a lot that day…

Each trainee was given there own 'cant', a 10 yard section of hedge, to lay. If this was a competition event then points are scored for correct length of pleachers, correct angle of cut stakes and correct height of binders.

Each trainee was given there own ‘cant’, a 10 yard section of hedge, to lay. If this was a competition event then points are scored for correct length of pleachers, correct angle of cut stakes and correct height of binders.

Often a chainsaw is used to pleach larger stems, but traditionally tools such as a billhook and long handled axe would do all of the work.

Often a chainsaw is used to pleach larger stems, but traditionally tools such as a billhook and long handled axe would do all of the work.

Thanks to Martin for arranging the day, standing here by a very neat piece of laying...

Thanks to Martin for arranging the day, standing here by a very neat piece of laying…

We managed to pick up all the tools and equipment before lost in the dusk and mist...

We managed to pick up all the tools and equipment before lost in the dusk and mist…

If you want to see the work for yourself, you will find Tilers' field on the Parkland Trail, just follow the blue way-marker posts.

If you want to see the work for yourself, you will find Tilers’ field on the Parkland Trail, just follow the blue way-marker posts.

Thank you for reading.

The Scotney Castle Ranger Team.

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Every cloud has a silver lining…

photo 1

When you find mould pushing its way through the panelling in a historic room, your first reaction is to panic! However, even though no one obviously wants mould coming through the walls, this event led to a few hidden discoveries at Scotney Castle.

The new house at Scotney Castle has had its fair few problems with leaks and is prone to water ingress due to the building material being sandstone. After a very hot and humid summer, combining this with the damp of the stone, Scotney became the perfect haven for our mouldy little friends. So the House team and Consultancy set out to get rid of a growth of mould in one of the ground floor rooms, the Garden Lobby.

Our first task was to actually find a way to get to the mould behind the panelling so we called in our wood and furniture specialist to come and remove the panelling designed by the architect of the House, Anthony Salvin. This may sound a simple task but that was far from the case- after much cursing at Salvin for his craftsmen not attaching the panelling like a normal joiner would (apparently), our furniture expert then started exclaiming Salvin’s ingenuity and marvelling at the attention to detail. Each piece not only fitted perfectly together like a jigsaw puzzle, this puzzle was extremely elaborate with curved edges slotting into one another, with each piece being unique. The panelling therefore had to be painstakingly removed in the right order which took place over two days.

After the removal of the woodwork and eliminating our uninvited guests from the walls, while sporting some gorgeous plastic suits, another treasure was uncovered- the stonework.

photo 3

The exterior walls of Scotney Castle are constructed from sandstone quarried on site which now has been turned into the Quarry Garden in the grounds. The interior stonework which we exposed when taking off the panelling is made from chalkstone, which was probably quarried locally in Kent or Sussex. This lovely stonework still has the worker’s marks on from the shaping of the stone, showing the unfinished raw state of the stonework behind the panelling which has never been seen since the house was built in 1837-43. As well as exposing the stonework, the structure and support for the panelling is shown; wedges of wood are placed in between the blocks of stone creating a support to which the panelling can be attached.

photo 2

Now all we need to do is wait for the stonework to dry out, which on average will dry at one inch per month! So the stonework and exposed construction of the house will be on display to our visitors for at least the next year.

So although we had a rather unpleasant surprise of mould growing through the walls, this set back allowed us to expose the stonework of the house and furthermore see Salvin’s design and ingenuity of constructing not only the house but the decorative interior design as well.

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Conservation, Coats and Country Life

flower room

The New house at Scotney has lots of textiles from curtains and upholstered furniture to dresses as well as Mrs Hussey’s outdoor coats. To help look after this wealth of textiles, we have started a new volunteer Textile Conservation Group, and the first project that the group tackled was the Flower Room.

The Flower Room is located on the ground floor, in a corridor leading from the Butler’s Pantry and Kitchen towards the Hall. This little room was, as the name suggests, used to arrange flowers which Mrs Betty Hussey was very fond of. This is a tradition which is still kept up by our volunteers today with freshly cut flowers being displayed in the rooms. As well as the multitude of vases, the room was also used as a cloakroom where many of Betty’s coats, hats, scarves and boots are on display, just as she had them when she lived at Scotney.

So how do we go about looking after our textiles? Textiles are normally vacuumed to remove any dust from their surface and the frequency of their cleaning depends on how delicate the fabric is, and where it is on the visitor route- as the closer to the visitor route the more likely dust is to fall on it.

We use small vacuums, known as museum vacs, which allow the suction level to be changed, as hoovering a delicate fabric on a high suction is obviously not a good idea! Another tool of the trade is netting. If you spread a net over the top of a textile or attach it over the head of the hoover, it will stop any stray fibres from entering the hoover and therefore prevent you from unravelling the fabric.

Before starting any textile cleaning, we have to look at the fabric, check for any damage and any possible fragility. Also before hoovering a whole piece of textile, it’s always best to check if it actually needs cleaning! We check this by doing a dust sample. If you put a piece of muslin between the hoover tube and the head and do a test patch on the textile, you can see how much dust has come off. If your dust sample looks something like this picture, it is very much in need of a clean.

 dust sample

[Dust sample taken from a tapestry stool in the Hall]

As well as the dust sample allowing you to see if the piece needs cleaning, it can also be used to check if any fibres have come out of the fabric and then we can adjust the suction level on the hoover accordingly. This simple method helps to protect textiles by not over cleaning them as if we hoovered a fabric too often we would cause more cumulative wear and abrasion, so just by doing a little test patch we can stop any unnecessary damage.

The textile group started their work by hoovering a blue padded overcoat which hangs at the side of the Flower Room. This coat we noticed is also found being worn by Betty in a picture hanging opposite, taken at the front of the New House at Scotney Castle. This is really nice to have not just the jacket which Betty wore but also the evidence that she wore it out into the grounds, in this case with people preparing for a shoot. This to me really hits home that Scotney Castle is a home that was lived in, not just in Victorian times but right up to modern day- and is left just as Mrs Hussey had it as if she has just popped out for a walk in the gardens.

Mrs Hussey

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Anyone got a light?

One of the things that amazes me about the new House at Scotney is the amount of objects and knick knacks around the house- you don’t know where to look first and you are always likely to come across a new discover. Pieces of the collection that happened to catch my eye recently are an assortment of match box holders that can be found in several rooms around the house, placed by fireplaces or next to ashtrays, made in a variety of materials and styles.

Matchbox holders as well as variety of cases to hold matches, known as vesta cases and match safes, first became popular in the mid-19th century with the introduction of the friction matches. Friction matches at this time were a little too good at their job and would sometimes spontaneously burst into flames. Match safes were then introduced to protect the user from having their coat catch alight by accident!

There are over 20 matchbox holders at Scotney castle which would have been used for domestic purposes such as lighting the fire or for smoking. Matchbox holders used within a domestic setting tended to be of larger sizes, rather than the handy pocket size match safes which could be carried on your person. One example from the collection at Scotney is a silver matchbox holder with the initials E.H and date 1900 inscribed on the case. This matchbox holder probably belonged to Edward Windsor Hussey (1855-1952), the son of Edward Hussey III who built the new house. Along with this matchbox holder is a silver cigarette case bearing the Hussey crest which is of a similar date, carrying a mark on the base of London 1898.

EH 1900.cigarrette case cropped

Matchbox holders could come in a variety of sizes, styles and also materials. In the Library of the new House, to the side of the fireplace, are three jade matchbox holders. One is a plain rectangular box while the others have a little animal on top- a turtle and a frog.

jade

My favourite matchbox holder in the collection and the inspiration for this blog is a later example made of brass. This matchbox holder furthermore reflects the character of the last occupant of Scotney Castle, Mrs Betty Hussey. Mrs Hussey was a big cat lover and her last cat named Puss Puss still lives in the house today. This little brass matchbox holder depicts a cat sitting on a brick wall and captures the character of Scotney in Mrs Hussey’s time down to a tee.

cat

 

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