Adventures in Heritage – Packwood House

Hey! Welcome back to Adventures in Heritage – the blog that keeps you up to date with Rachel’s antics in the heritage sector. This week, Rachel catalogues a lot of things beginning with ‘B’, takes many, many pictures of plants and learns to identify leaves.

Volunteering

My brain really amazes me sometimes… at how slow it is at catching on! For some reason, it hadn’t clicked that the Waring-Brown collection might be stored in alphabetical order – which would be why all sorts of engineering terms beginning with ‘B’ are crawling out of the woodwork. Bearings, brakes, Bendix – it makes sense! Goodness knows why it took so long for me to cotton on to that, but there you go.

Things are going pretty well with the Waring-Brown actually. I’m getting through the envelopes at a pretty good pace, and it takes me less and less time to get back in the swing of things. Good news on the cataloguing front.

After taking an early lunch, I headed down to Conservation to see if there was anything for me to do. I had to hang around a bit whilst Jane grabbed something to eat, but I didn’t mind that at all. We soon got down to business, cleaning glass and negatives prior to wrapping them up. We realised that we needed to make some cardboard frames to keep them secure so that job was passed to me.

The first attempt was a disaster.

After a couple of pointers from Jane (“Don’t put all your strength into each cut – just cut layer by layer,”) my second attempt was much better, and we were able to get on with the wrapping process. At some point Luke (the current trainee) joined us to do some cataloguing.

It was nearly the end of the day when we decided to take the negatives that had been completely processed down to the basement. Unfortunately the large lift was out of order so we had to navigate our trolley of precious glass plate negatives through the small spaces of the History Centre and into their tiny lift.

Once we got down there, we realised that the task was going to be a lot bigger than we expected. It still hadn’t been decided what order things were going to be completely catalogued in, and whether the broken ones would be included in the order or have their own separate section. We collected some boxes from the top shelves – annoying Jane to no end that we could do it without a ladder – before we decided that it was rather too late to start on this.

Just as we were about to leave, Luke decided to show us some of the photo albums for the other Coventry car companies and they were just beautiful! The binding was gorgeous and the material inside was just wonderful as well. Hopefully I’ll get to see some more of those another day!

Rachel Reviews… Packwood House

We had every intention of visiting Packwood House a few weeks ago, but as you know we ended up going to the Coventry Transport Museum instead. So, we decided to make our visit happen! We’ve visited it before – the first time we went to see an outdoor performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (which was awesome!) and a second time where I forgot my camera, and my phone died so I didn’t get much evidence of our visit. This time I made that the camera was ready the night before – especially after the battery death at Snowshill Manor!

We received a very warm welcome from the volunteers, who were very happy to point out everything that was on offer – they even told us about the Kitchen Garden, which we’d never heard of before. Before heading out to explore we decided to have some tea and cake (or hot chocolate and brownie in my case), which was lovely – especially as you could borrow rugs to keep yourself warm! I was very cosy!

Our first was the Kitchen Garden. I can’t believe that we’d never paid a little visit to this part of the ground before. It was just stunning! We visited at the perfect time of year because all the flowers were in bloom and the garden was full of the most gorgeous colours. They had a little garden called ‘The Pizza Garden’ because it was round and in it was growing all the ingredients you need for a pizza! We were also blessed with the presence of a lovely bird who generously posed for me for a few minutes.

We then went to explore the house. We commented on this last time we visited, but it is really well laid out. My favourite aspect of the house is the small objects that have quotes printed on them (like plates and cushions) that tell the story of the property and its owner. It’s a really lovely building with so many rooms to explore, with really knowledgeable volunteers who are always ready to interact with members of the public. In one of the rooms we also got to see some conservation in action!

We grabbed ourselves a quick lunch of cheese scones and changed into our wellys to go on the Welly Walk. It has been remarkably sunny recently so there was no guarantee that there would be any mud for us to require wellys but we thought we’d be better safe than sorry. We took a Children’s Trail with us that got us to identify trees by looking at their leaves, which was great fun. There were various activities around the woods including a swing, den building and some wooden bars to hit (which I did with a totally inappropriate branch). We ended up finding one of every type of tree except for the field maple, which was a little disappointing.

After that we decided to go and explore the lake to see if I could capture a picture of the house and its reflection. To our surprise we discovered that the lake was partially drained as they were carrying essential repair works on the causeway. This caused the shells of a lot of freshwater mussels to be exposed, which was just fascinating. And I got my picture!

Our final exploration of the day was of the topiary garden. This is a gorgeous little spot where a spiral of box hedge leads you to a bench under a little yew tree. It gives you great views of the grounds and the house. We decided that it was probably best to go as grey clouds were gathering and we didn’t want to end such a good day by getting wet! And we spent the ride home looking for field maples out the car window!

We had a fantastic time at Packwood House. Every part of the site is well looked after and there’s just so much to see and explore. The house is really well laid out, and there’s very little text which is good for those who struggle with reading. Any information that is written down can easily be supplied by the many volunteers. The woodland walks are excellent and the lake is gorgeous. I highly recommend visiting! 5 stars – ★★★★★

I’m afraid I’ve got some sad news 🙁 This is going to be the last EVER Adventures in Heritage blog. I know, I’m sad too but I’m simply too busy! Rest assured that I will be continuing my Adventures, but just not documenting them here. If you see me out and about, feel free to come and ask me what I’ve been up to – I’d be more than happy to chat to you about my latest escapades.

Thank you so much for reading.

Rachel

Interesting Links

Coventry History Centre
Packwood House
TripAdvisor Review

See more of Rachel’s Packwood House pictures on Facebook!