Adventures in Heritage – Snowshill Manor

Hi There! Sorry I wasn’t able to give you an update last week, but better late than never, haha. This week I’ve catalogued more than my fair share of information about ball-bearings, visited a charming manor house in the Gloucestershire countryside and ran into a fellow P5er! Read on from more details.

Volunteering

Back at the Herbert once again! I spent the day in the Archives, storming through the Waring and Brown collection. I would really love it if I could get this all done before I go to university, but the sheer volume of material is making that dream look less and less likely.

I did, however, manage to end up finishing the first drawer in the filing cabinet! That ended up being about 46 envelopes which covered a huge range of material and topics. There the regular things like press cuttings and technicals, but there were also pages of calculations and graphs and even sets of beautifully neat handwritten notes.

Also, I never want to see any information about mechanical bearings ever again – 19 envelopes is more than my fair share! Interestingly there were also two envelopes that just had one item in, which caught me off guard.

It was great to be able to get a large chunk of the work done, and I left feeling extremely pleased with my progress. Bring on next week!

Rachel Reviews… Snowshill Manor

We had a bit more time this week so we were able to go a little further afield with our exploring! We ended up settling on Snowshill Manor, a small manor house set in the beautiful Cotswolds that is home to a huge collection of incredible treasures created by Charles Wade. Mum has visited this venue before, but when she was still in school so she was eager to go and see if it was the same as she remembered.

Getting there was actually fine, despite it being a bit in the middle of nowhere. We only fell at the final hurdle because we decided to believe the sat-nav over the road signs (remember, the signs are almost always correct). We got our first glimpse of what was on offer in the house, interestingly, in the toilets as they had some replica objects on display. Curious place to put them, but I appreciated seeing them.

It was as we headed down to the cafe that I ran into a fellow P5er – Kristina, who had been a part of the Past is Now project at Ingestre Hall. It was lovely to have a quick catch up, but we went our separate ways to explore the venue. That was our cue to go and explore what was available for lunch. The cafe provided very large portions, but we were left a little disappointed by the cakes.

The walk from the cafe to the house was lovely with grand views of the Cotswolds, sheep playing in a field and wonderful quotes from Charles Wade about why he collected. Once we reached the manor we were directed to an introductory talk to get an overview of what happened. This was excellent and we even found out that Wade lived in Suffolk when he was a child – we actually lived nearby! We had a quick glance around the garden, but my camera battery was already low so we decided to check out the house so that we could get some pictures of the collection.

The first room was full of stunning Oriental artefacts including model boats, delicate clocks and Japanese picnic boxes. We managed to get ourselves a copy of the children’s trail which had us looking for specific artefacts – a great way for us seek out hidden objects.

In the next room we got to see some conservation in action! It was in this room that the cabinet belonging to Wade’s grandmother, which had sparked his interest in collecting as a child, had been emptied for cleaning. A conservator was sat in the room and was cleaning the objects as a live demonstration which was just awesome! She was extremely friendly and was more than happy to answer all of our questions.

It was easy to tell which rooms had extra special artefacts in as they were either blocked off with Perspex (which I found out the hard way) or had a viewing platform that allowed you to get close, but not too close. On the first floor we found a room with a beautiful harp and a selection of tiny artefacts that you could touch! This included a little music box that played ‘Happy Birthday’ and a wooden fish. There was also some dressing up, but it was way too warm to try any of that on – although we did make use of the provided fans. There were also a number of models buildings made by Wade himself which were just lovely.

When then headed upstairs again to see even more stuff. It did remind me of Calke Abbey a bit, in terms of the sheer quantity of stuff, but it had all been presented nicely and everything was properly cared for – making it a much nicer viewing experience.

The next room was called One Hundred Wheels and, as you may have guessed, all the objects had wheels! Well, most of them – I don’t think the model boat actually had any wheels. The majority of objects were bicycles of one sort or another, which meant I could quip that they had a collection to rival that of the Coventry Transport Museum! I asked if there were actually one hundred wheels in the room, but no-one could confirm for definite. There was also a poignant notice of how delicate some items can be in the form of a broken tea cup – definitely worth remembering…

We made our way through the rest of the house looking at all these amazing objects. The highlights for me were a large picture made entirely out of bugs, a full suit of armour, a crossbow and a mystery object in the shape of a scorpion. We asked a volunteer if they knew what it was, but it seemed that even the experts were unsure as to its purpose, and their best guess was that it was a very fancy salt cellar. I thought it was a fantastic way to pass the salt! We also particularly enjoyed the room that was dedicated to a selection of musical instruments, although it was a bit sad that they had lost their purpose just sitting in a collection.

After this, we explored the Priest’s Cottage where Wade had chosen to make his home. This was a lovely little building that had been reconstructed to look as though it had when Wade had used it. My favourite this was a little wooden cat that had optimistically been given a saucer of milk to drink.

Then it was time to properly check out the wonderful garden. It was gorgeous, and we’d come at a brilliant time of year to see all the flowers in bloom. The doves were quite happy sat on the roof of their dovecote and there was just a really lovely atmosphere. The last thing I was able to take pictures of was the model village of Wolf’s Cove but then my battery died so we decided to call it a day.

Snowshill Manor was a wonderful day out. Absolutely everything was well kept and it was a pleasure to wander around slowly and taking in the beautiful atmosphere. The variety of objects on the display kept us interested throughout the house, and as ever the volunteers were extremely knowledgeable. The introductory talk was particularly excellent, and we would definitely recommend listening to this before heading around the house. 4 stars – ★★★★

Well that’s all for this week! Thank you so much for reading and see you again soon with some more adventures for you.

Rachel

Interesting Links
Coventry History Centre
Snowshill Manor
TripAdvisor Review
See more of Rachel’s Snowshill Manor pictures on Facebook!