An obituary has just appeared about Hermione Sandwith, who was the first conservation adviser on paintings and sculpture for the National Trust.
It is now difficult to imagine how scarce good conservation advice was in the early nineteen-seventies, when Hermione Sandwith joined the National Trust. She set about to change that, by first learning various techniques herself from reputable restorers, and then by beginning to define some professional standards for the care of National Trust collections.
She eventually published these guidelines as the Manual of Housekeeping, written together with Sheila Stainton. The current, enlarged version of the Manual is the most comprehensive published compendium on conservation management.
Hermione Sandwith also gradually recruited other conservators to look after different parts of the National Trust’s collections. Today the level of conservation expertise is fortunately high.
There are always new challenges, however. There is currently an increasing emphasis on a more intensive use of historic houses, and so conservators are more necessary than ever.