9 November 2012

The end is also the beginning

Last Sunday we closed the doors of Hill Top (the house anyway, the garden and shop stay open until Xmas) and of the Beatrix Potter Gallery at the end of our 2012 season. (Wray Castle is closed during the week now but is open at weekends through until Xmas.) For us though, the end of one part of our work year is the beginning of another.

Behind the scenes our closed period is a very busy time as conservation, maintenance and improvement projects all get underway. For Hill Top house in particular it's an opportunity to give the house and its contents a really good 'deep' clean and then to protect them from a Lake District winter (cold and damp...so ok a bit like a Lake District summer!); we call this 'Putting the House to Bed' . We've shown this video before but for others who have not seen it here's what happens behind the door and shutters at Hill Top house over the next weeks.

For the Beatrix Potter Gallery this year's exhibition is taken down and the delicate drawings and watercolours carefully put back into storage ready for others to take their turn in the limelight next year. To prolong the life of Beatrix Potter's artwork we use different pictures every year and choose a new theme for every exhibition which then determines which pictures are brought out. (Preparing the Gallery for next year will be a big job).

Although the front door at Hill Top is closed now until next year, the garden gate is still open, so it's still possible to visit and see the house from the outside (you often get the garden to yourself and can get some lovely seasonal photos.) Although our seasonal visitor services team take a well-earned break, others are still hard at work, including our shop staff at Hill Top and the Hawkshead shop and will give visitors a warm welcome.

Stock Photography by Ward: Properties  Hill Top garden in autumn
A different view of Hill Top house and garden
Also at this time of year we take the opportunity to make changes, often based on comments we've had from visitors over the season, and to bring in other ideas to give visitors an even more enjoyable time next year.

It's also a chance to get any bigger building repair and maintenance jobs done. At Wray Castle, for example, the next few months will see major repairs and improvements being carried out; although in this case the builders will be working around the visitors as the Castle is open at weekends until Xmas. You can follow progress on-line via the dedicated repairs blog or see footage from the rooftop webcams when you visit the castle in person.

A colourful piece of kit for some serious repairs work at Wray Castle
We always start off thinking there's plenty of time in the three months or so we're closed but it passes all too quickly and before we know it it's the end again, this time of our closed season, and we're ready to start anew. Now where's that duster!

post | Linda
video & garden photo | photographybyward
Wray Castle photo | Rose Lord