Winter work behind closed doors 17/01/2018
Once again the dust sheets are coming off, the ladders are out and the vacuum cleaners are in overdrive as the House Stewards are busy cleaning Tintagel Old Post Office ready for half-term opening, 10-18 February.
We’ll be carrying out the work in a ‘top-down’ approach starting with the ceiling, through to the walls and floorboards as well as treating, cleaning and documenting all the collection items in our care.
During this time the audit of the collections also takes place where we review the location of the items, their condition and try and identify what conservation work needs doing. A meeting with the conservator is lined up to help inform us on how to treat the most vulnerable items.
This is also an important time of year for our gardener, Kate. Aside from the usual cutting back and maintenance, Kate has been busy removing plants that we have identified as being out-of-keeping with the house, thus allowing room for the planting of new shrubs. This is being done in an attempt to make the garden of Tintagel Old Post Office more historically accurate, filled with the sort of plants you would expect to see in a cottage garden in this part of Cornwall.
Raspberries, redcurrants gooseberries and blackcurrants are the latest additions, planted to compliment the already well-rooted apple and medlar trees. This will create a ‘fruit corner’ for the garden with roses to add a bit of colour.
Haunted happenings this half-term!
‘Essence of the Old Post Office’
– Photography competition 2017
2nd place, Parlour window with jug by Jeremy Willcocks (top) and 3rd place Back garden and rich blue sky by Maria Preston (above)
Throughout the 2017 season, visitors have been taking part in our third in-house photography competition under the theme ‘essence of the Old Post Office’ with budding photographers asked to capture the intrinsic feel of the house through an image.
This time around, we received a record 113 image entries. There were many different perspectives and approaches, but black and white seemed to be the most common style employed.
A shortlist was created and displayed in the hall, with the overall winner, 2nd and 3rd places decided by the voting visitors.
Above you will see the images that received 2nd and 3rd places in the competition. The overall winner will be announced on 20/10/17 on our facebook page.
We will be running the competition next year where the theme will be ‘home’. Please look out for more details on how to enter or email us at email@example.com for more details.
As part of the Festival of British Archaeology, 16-31 July, unearth how this ancient abode would have looked over 600 years ago and how life within it has changed over time.
Let your little treasures become archaeologists for the day with hands-on activities.
The exhibit will feature original pen, ink and watercolour reconstruction drawings of how the house would have looked back when it was built in 1380. These were created by much-celebrated local artist Sue Read.
A children’s archaeology and history trail will be available free of charge as well as crafty capers in the hall, where kids can create their own coat of arms, much like the one originally above the fireplace.
A mock-trench will also be available to dig in (weather permitting) featuring real artefacts from the medieval and post-medieval periods so that avid archaeologists can get hands-on with history.
For those interested in the famously wavy roof, a section of the exhibition will be dedicated to exploring the 1992 roof restoration, which took two builders six months to complete at a cost of £70,000!
Are you a green-fingered person with a passion for plants?
Tintagel Old Post Office is looking for a new gardener to maintain and develop its traditional cottage garden. The front garden frames the house and is inviting whereas the back is a quiet retreat and also the setting for many of our events.
The garden changes dramatically through the seasons; never the same there’s lots to keep you occupied. This is a real opportunity to make the garden your own through deciding what plants to grow and where, maintaining the current layout, planting pots for sale and chatting to other like-minded people who will have questions about garden.
We need your help.
The garden has changed quite dramatically in the last 10 years or so, and we are aiming to have a photographic record of this change for the upcoming garden exhibition in September.
If you have any photos of the gardens here, whether in digital format, traditional print or even film negatives, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
If you are happy to help, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Easter Egg Hunts at Tintagel Old Post Office
A Cleaned Slate
The big winter clean at Tintagel Old Post Office.
As Tintagel Old Post Office prepares to open its doors for the 2016 season, we look back at the cleaning and conservation work done during the quieter times of the year.
Every late October/early November, Tintagel Old Post Office shuts its doors to the public and over the Winter months, the house and the collections are meticulously cleaned and cared for.
The best way to describe how we go about this process, is by saying we use a ‘top-down’ approach to both the items in the collection and the fabric of the house itself.
We start with the rafters and the underside of the famously wavy slate roof, clearing away the thick stubborn cobwebs that have been allowed to accumulate during the year when out-of-reach spiders have free-reign over the upper echelons of the house.
This is a delicate process as the limewash – the white mortar paint, which keeps the house watertight but breathable – tends to crumble if brushed too vigorously. As this covers most of the interior of the house, the walls also have to be dusted delicately – something all the more precarious when you’re up a ladder.
This is a real opportunity to get up close and personal with the warped green-oak beams that have somehow propped the ancient slate roof up since medieval times, save for a respite of conservation work in 1992.
Down the walls and to the floors. The timber floorboards of the house get filled with all sorts of dust and detritus brought in by the numerous visitors over the season. The best way to clear these: kebab skewers. Not the most high-tech piece of kit, but effective. Not the most glamorous of jobs, but essential. You’d be amazed how must dust is generated from a season of people entering a room for just a matter of minutes.
The flagstone floors, put down sometime in the 16th century require good old fashioned elbow-grease, and we clean them the traditional way, on our hands and knees with hot water and rags. There’s a lot to be said for the old methods. If you think slate is self-cleaning from people walking over it, then you’d be amazed by how quickly our white rags turn black.
The windows get a similar treatment, but we are careful not to use any chemicals or to be too vigorous as the panes are covered with transparent UV filters to prevent the damaging effects of constant sunlight on the paintings and samplers, which if left exposed, would fade over time.
On to the collections. Many of the items simply require a good dusting. This includes ceramics, paintings, samplers, pewter items and the like. Occasionally the ceramics are washed, but only with minimal tepid water and only every few years.
With the furniture, it’s the joints where the dust accumulates, the nooks and crannies. For this, we use special brushes to gently get into the grooves and prevent buildup. The main thing is to keep the dust moving, to clear it away and clean it up, because when it settles, it’s like cement. The occasional rub of NT wax polish brings the old items back to their best.
Some metal items require polishing to really bring out the shine and all fireplaces, pots, pans and irons are blackened with special grate polish which will slowly wear-off over coming next season.
All the while, we are going through the conservation records to see if any of the items have deteriorated or need special treatment and recording our work on them this time around.
The beds are re-made, paintings are put back up, the clocks are wound and the house is ready for another year in a long history spanning more than six centuries.
19 January 2016
Join our team:
Do you have a passion for preserving historic houses, enjoy working as part of a team and meeting many new people? Then we’d like to hear from you.
Tintagel Old Post Office NT is recruiting Visitor Experience Assistants for the 2016 season, 1 March – 30 October. This is a permanent position, with the opportunity to return for following seasons.
Work to include weekends as well as week days.
Please see the poster below for more details.
To apply, please search job reference IRC32920 on www.nationaltrustjobs.org.uk
2 November 2015
The house is now closed for the season and will re-open for February half-term 2016. Thank you to all who visited. We had around 45,000 visitors this year, which is overwhelming for the OPO, a house with 5 rooms.
Because of this high footfall, the house needs a little TLC – we are using this quieter time of the season to undertake crucial conservation work on the house and its collections. We will be cleaning the house and items from top to bottom and carrying out repairs on the roof, handrails and the like. This is all made possible through your visits, donations and memberships, which actively help us look after special places like this for ever, for everyone.
18 September 2015
Trailing through the Hinterland: making the event trailer for The Cruel and Curious
When asked by Cai from Hickory Nines to create the trailer for the Cruel and Curious Hinterland, I, like the artists involved, had to define not only the term, but also what it meant to me personally.
The hinterland as a theme is brilliantly ambiguous – looking inland/inwards can mean different things to different people and how they express this could (and hopefully will) differ greatly, offering endless modes of expression, and a variety of media to do so.
Cai and I could pinpoint a few mutual aspects of what was meant by ‘hinterland’ and this helped determine the shots, tone and what we wanted the film to achieve. Focusing in from the dictionary-style definition of ‘the land behind the sea’, we looked at the loneliness and isolation afforded by this liminal zone; the unknown and thus unnerving; the concept of there once being a human presence in an area and the idea of the natural world reclaiming what was rightfully its own. We wanted the film to be slightly unsettling but not have the feel of horror.
Immediately I saw the film being in black and white. I thought it would provide a stark contrast to the colourful, scenic view usually offered when showcasing the West Country. I hoped that such a dramatic change would create an unsettling feel and almost a pessimistic tone, as experienced in film noir.
With the tone set, I then had to scout and chose locations that fitted these criterion.
As someone with an interest in archaeology and built heritage, it seemed natural for features like redundant engine houses, viaducts, railway track beds, disused mills and the like to make an appearance. After all, the landscape of Devon and Cornwall is littered with relics of the industrial revolution, but often on the periphery of the landscape and thus of our attention.
Davidstow airfield was also a prime contender. I looked at it from the view of an outsider: if you came across it by accident you would ask – ‘what happened here? Why is it no longer used?’
This to me, was the hinterland. These were areas often overlooked and unexplored by most – after all, these buildings are ruinous, so serve no purpose. Paradoxically, this made me want to visit them, to find out what happened here and why? In the process I came to terms with the great endeavors people had gone to when altering or manipulating the landscape and how those times are now gone. They offered an air of mystery, and their often dramatic positions in the landscape or the mixture of lighting they offered seemed to look good on camera.
Other locations in this hinterland were deemed curious as they posed unanswered questions. The fallen pylon along the road between Bude and Otterham Station was one such site. This structure had fallen over, only to be replaced by another pylon – but why had the old, broken one not been removed? The land owner had kindly given me permission to film, but did not allude as to why it was still lying there. It was this very discourse that had sparked the theme of the show. This seemed a flagship shot for the film and Cai was keen to include it. Visually it would look great. I was happy to oblige.
In terms of the voiceover, Cai had organised interviews with two artists with differing backgrounds: Eldmer, a male tattoo artist (and like myself originally from Wales) and Somerset/Devon girl Hannah Wheeler, a painter working in oil portraiture. (Both of which now work in Bude). Such a contrast in background and style, we hoped would offer an interesting narration to the film.
Planning the shoot for this film was totally different to any others I have
done, in that I planned little. As someone not originally from the area, much of the landscape felt like the hinterland to me and many locations that feature in the film are places that I have simply stumbled across when walking the dog or out with my camera. This act of discovery in unknown areas epitomised the theme to me. There were of course some shots that were planned, whether by driving past a place, through conversation with others or by hovering over an OS map. But the best locations, I feel, were the ones that would reveal themselves unexpectedly to me, and simply said ‘hinterland’.
Monday 7 -Sunday 20 September
Uncover the work of Arts and Crafts-inspired architect Detmar Blow, the man who renovated Tintagel Old Post Office NT between 1896-1900 restoring it to it’s former glory.
Blow is known for replacing the windows, adding a chimney stack and the left-hand buttress which keeps the house standing! His work on the stair turret and other staircase meant the bedrooms could once again be safely accessible, and these are used by our visitors today when exploring the house.
There are allusions to his arts and crafts background with many modifications being done in a medieval-like style that favoured traditional craftsmanship and ideas of building; the balustrade, often seen as a minstrels’ gallery is an example of this, as are the pigeon holes in the side of the house that are purely aesthetic.
100 Faces 100 Stories is an exhibition of Cornish collections highlighting the role and inspiration of Cornwall, its people and those who lived here during the First World War: www.100firstworldwarstories.co.uk
14 August 2015
We’re recruiting for a gardener:
Are you an experienced green-fingered person with a love of special places? If so, this position at Tintagel Old Post Office NT could be for you.
The back garden of the OPO is a tranquil setting that offers a relaxing escape from the busy high street. It changes dramatically with the seasons and receives continual positive feedback from visitors.
At the front, the garden helps set the scene and frames the house in a way that invites.
This is a permanent, paid position, 7.4 hours a week, £9.62 p/h with fantastic career benefits and development opportunities.
For more information about the role and to apply, please visit http://www.nationaltrustjobs.org.uk/join-us and search for job reference IRC27244 or postcode search PL34 0DB.
The closing date for applications is 24 August 2015
8 August 2015
The next event at Tintagel Old Post Office is ‘Hunting for bugs’, Wednesday 12 August 11am-4pm.
As part of 50 Things, hunt for bugs in the cottage garden and make a home for a wild animal then tick off #31 and #36 in your 50 Things scrapbook. If you don’t have a scrapbook, then pick one up free at the house.
All materials for the bug hotel will be provided, so you just need to build the home for your creepy crawlies and mini monsters.
Normal admission charges apply. Members free.
1 August 2015
Create wild art in the Tintagel Old Post Office garden and tick off #18 of 50 Things to do before you’re 11 and 3/4 on Wednesday 5 August. Collect your free 50 Things scrapbook on your visit and start your adventure!
All materials will be provided, you just need to bring your artistic flair!
Normal admission charges apply. members free.
25 July 2015
For the past two weeks, we’ve been exploring the lesser-known history and archaeology of Tintagel Old Post Office. As part of the Festival of Archaeology, 11-26 July, our event Diggin’ Deeper provided us with a window of opportunity to look at the Medieval origins of the house.
This was achieved through artists impressions and reconstruction drawings of the house as it would have looked in the 14th century, based on our research of buildings of a contemporary date as well as the historic building analysis, carried out in 2003. Drawings by local artist Sue Read
Accompanying text provided context to how the family would have lived and how and when certain architectural changes took place.
We also had a section on the roof restoration of 1992 and how the decision was made to keep the roof wavy. This allowed us to show the important work your memberships, visits and donations afford for houses in the care of the National Trust.
For the younger visitors, there were hands on activities, with a mock excavation, finds handling and colouring sheets to allow them to create their own coat-of-arms, similar to the one that would have originally existed above the fireplace.
The archaeologists from North Cornwall Heritage also came along for a day. They have been digging a nearby longhouse of similar date, and as such were able to supply us with the sort of finds you’d expect to see here in the Middle Ages, along with information on what they’ve learnt from their excavation, including a 3D model of their trench!
Meeting with Thom from NCH
26 June 2015
The next event at the OPO is ‘Diggin’ deeper’. As part of the Festival of Archaeology, we’ll be unearthing the earlier medieval history of the building from its roots as longhouse in 1380 through to 1500 when the iconic slate roof was added.
This will be done through several reconstruction drawings by local artist Sue Read (see sketch below), along with articles, newspaper cuttings, architects’ plans and drafts showing the roof restoration of 1992 – a project that increased our understanding of the roof.
In the garden we will have a mock-excavation ‘trench’ for your little treasures who wish to become an archaeologist for the day as well as the chance to handle artefacts.
There’s also a chance to meet archaeologists from North Cornwall Heritage who, along with us at the OPO, will give a combined talk about medieval longhouses in the landscape.
Normal admission charges apply. Members free.
A preliminary sketch of the building c.1380. Find out more about Sue Read here.
13 June 2015
This incredible stone relief-carving was shared by one of our Twitter followers, Simon Fredrick, who has kindly let us show it here.
Simon is yet to visit the house (but will be soon), which made us wonder why he chose this building as the subject of his work.
In Simon’s words:
‘…I decided to carve the OPO because it oozes history; the heavy slate roof straining under the weight…it has character by the bucket load with its fancy chimney design, chimney pots and the central feature chimney. In my eyes the OPO has perfect form, scale and proportions.’
Thank you Simon. We admire your dedication!
Follow us on Twitter: @ntoldpostoffice
With close attention to detail, Simon accurately captured the worn slates above the hall window.
5 June 2015
We are delighted to announce that our Festival of British Archaeology event ‘Diggin’ Deeper’ is featured in the Council for British Archaeology newsletter.
The event is being organised in partnership with North Cornwall Heritage and runs from 11-26 July. It will feature reconstructive drawings, talks, a mock excavation for kids and finds handling*. For more information about the event, click here: http://bit.ly/diggin-deeper
Normal admission charges apply. Members free.
For any queries, please contact email@example.com
*activities may be subject to change.
The next event at Tintagel Old Post Office is ‘The Little House of Tintagel’, a quilt exhibition inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House’ series of books.
Monday 15 – Sunday 28 June.
Normal admission charges apply. Members free.
Our handling collection has increased, thanks to this recently donated print of Tintagel Old Post Office.
An interpretation by Kevin Platt, it gives us an insight into what life may have been like when this building still operated as the village letter receiving office. Ask if you can handle it, next time you’re in.
The gardeners have planted a new crab apple tree after the previous plant had succumb to weather damage. As a newly planted shrub, it requires at least half a watering can of water everyday, even if it has been raining! We regularly water the back garden to keep it to its beautiful best, so this won’t take up too much of our time. It can be seen in the right of the front garden, so look out for it next time you’re in.
We have been reaching new heights (literally) by taking aerial photographs of the house. Using a cherry picker, we were able to climb up to 70 feet to take some shots, giving people a perspective of the Old Post Office that they don’t normally get to see. It also allowed us to view the house in a wider context within its landscape.
Many people think it looks like a Lilliput Lane model! What do you think?:
25 April 2015
This week sees the launch of the first ever photography competition at the Old Post Office in Tintagel
Entry to the competition is FREE and any style, subject or camera is allowed.
Email your best snaps to: firstname.lastname@example.org
for a chance of winning a £10 print of the property; new colour guidebook or OPO bookmark. All of which we will post for free.
Please see the posters below for more details and terms and conditions. Normal admission charges to the property do apply.
Filming the clocks
This week, we used recently acquired camera equipment to film the winding of the Parliament, and other clocks. Using head-cams, the brief from the regional team was that we must film ourselves working in hard to reach places. We believe this fits the brief, even if the ladders have changed! look out for the final cut of the film soon!
Cornwall Paranormal Research
Saturday 4th of April saw the lights of Tintagel Old Post Office switched off for our latest group of ghost hunters. With high-tech equipment, including the use of CCTV with cameras in 4 of the 5 rooms, the group were looking for anything that goes bump in the night! Apparently the name Harriet came to light and the image of a small girl. Spooky!
Easter is always popular at the Old Post Office, and this year was no different. With two Easter trails (one for under 6s), the children had to help the Forgetful Farmer and Clumsy Cook locate their chocolate chicken eggs and hot cross buns respectively. By finding clues around the house and solving the puzzle, those taking part were able to claim their own Cadbury chocolate egg.
Cloam Cuisine saw the increasingly-popular firing of a traditional Victorian bread oven. Cheese soda bread and chocolate soda bread were among the dishes of the day, and much appreciated by the visitors.
Gain inspiration to fire your own cloam oven – if you’re lucky enough to have one – or take in the revival of a dying form of traditional baking.
The oven will be fired again towards the end of the season, in the mean time watch the short taster film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVxD_Ia9ZEk
We have now launched a YouTube channel for all short films relating Tintagel Old Post Office; some will focus on the architecture and contents of the house itself, others on the events, exhibitions and activities taking place under the wavy roof & in the cottage garden.
There are currently 5 films to see from this season, from the firing of a traditional ‘cloam’ oven to the colours of the garden or how the house influences creatives.
You can see them all here:
Please subscribe if you would like to hear of new films automatically as they are uploaded. Otherwise follow our Facebook page for regular updates.
The Old Post Office is now closed for the season; we welcome visitors back during February half-term and again on 9 March for the 2015 season. Look out for our events programme.
In the meantime, the house and its contents are receiving crucial conversation work and are being treated to prevent their deterioration. Stay posted for more ‘behind the scenes’ updates over the winter period.
Enjoy a haunted half-term at Tintagel Old Post Office with a Hallowe’en trail all week. Using your UV torch, find the spooky symbols hidden within the darkness and solve the riddle.
Join us at the WI hall next to the OPO for Friday Fright Night on 31 October. See poster for details. Admission charges apply.
Visitors enjoyed ‘Faggots, futtocks and furze’ a week-long event where we fired the traditional cloam oven and baked Cornish bread and pastries. Look out for the next firing of the oven at the start of the 2015 season.
Tomorrow (11/10/14) is the last day for the firing of the traditional cloam oven.
Here’s what is looked like on Thursday.
Pop along between 11am-1pm to see, hear and taste traditional baking methods brought to life and warm yourself in the heat of the hall this drizzly October.
Oven lit at 11am. Normal admission charges apply. Members FREE.
Enjoy FREE entry this Saturday, 13 September as part of Heritage Open Day and be one of the #600for600 with your visit representing an individual year in the life of the house.
For more information please call: 01840 770024
The Homefront, WW1, 8-28 September.
It’s been a busy few weeks of putting together the finishing touches for the exhibition on ‘The Homefront’, during the First World War. Come along and examine what life was like in Tintagel during the war years, 1914-1918, the stories of those who served the war effort from North Cornwall and how the village has changed since 100 years have passed.
With regards to the latter, what is evident is the growing number of visitors that a developing transport system has enabled – in many early photos people can be seen stood in the street with children often playing safely in what is now the road. In taking the ‘before and after’ photos, it became apparent that the original photographers were able to set-up on what is now a mini-roundabout, and as such these shots were particularly difficult to replicate!
What hasn’t changed, however, is the existence of some very old buildings, the Old Post Office amongst them, and even though time has now moved on in some areas, a nod to a previous use can be seen in places.
Wednesday’s wool workshop proved to be a big hit, despite the failed attempts of the windy conditions to sweep away the marquee!
Several different wool-based crafts were available for the visitors to get involved with, but the favoured activity was creating wool pom-poms that could be then turned into animals, the most popular of which being a hedgehog!
This week, as part of the #50things to do before you’re 11 3/4, visitors have been creating wild art at Tintagel Old Post Office. Using a variety of media from sand, shells, pebbles and sticks to corks, leaves, bamboo and flowers, unique mini-masterpieces were made and displayed in the cottage garden.
Look out for the next event at Tintagel Old Post Office: Woolen Workshop on Wednesday 27th August, 11am-4pm.
Tomorrow at Tintagel Old Post Office create wild art for #18 of your #50things to do before you’re 11 3/4. All materials will be provided, but feel free to bring your own sticks, shells, pebbles and other items from the palette of mother nature to create a mini-masterpiece.
Normal admission charges apply. Members free.
Last week saw the arrival of the new colour souvenir guidebook (available on arrival and online). It is packed full of information and imagery on the history of the house; its care and collections; the people who shaped its story and what lives and grows in the cottage garden. After just one week it is proving to be a popular memento at only £3.50!
Wednesday August 6th saw young visitors (and some adults alike!) completing #31 of 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4 as the children went ‘hunting for bugs’ in the garden of the OPO. Armed with magnifying glasses and bug identifier kits, they were able to uncover and understand what lives and thrives in the undergrowth of British gardens.
Visitors were also invited to make a ‘bug hotel’ to encourage arachnid and insect inhabitation in their own gardens. These can be easily made; consisting of just plastic tubing – even the middle of a large pop bottle will work – and (preferably) hollow sticks to fill it, e.g. bamboo.
All you need then is a piece of string so that you can hang it up in your garden and watch the creepy crawlies make it their home! Look out for the next event: Creating Wild Art!
Give your garden beasties the V.I.P treatment this summer – join us at Tintagel Old Post Office NT on August 6th to make and take ‘bug hotels’ to encourage their habitation in your garden.
Hunt for bugs as part of the #50Things to do before you’re 11 3/4 and collect the sticker for your 50 Things scrapbook, also available here.
(Normal admission charges apply. Members free)
A ‘thank you’ to the North Cornwall Volunteer Rangers
As a thank you, the helpful and commited North Cornwall volunteers were given a free tour of Tintagel Old Post Office – and a cream tea to boot!
There are numerous benefits to volunteering with the Trust. If you would like to work with like-minded people, gain knowledge, experience and new skills, please don’t hesitate to contact North Cornwall National Trust.
‘Telling Tales’ 7th-20th July
There was a fantastic turnout for the ‘Telling Tales’ event at The OPO; this culminated in the creating of the Old Post Office Story 2014 – a narrative created by individual visitors who wrote only one paragraph before leaving it open for new authors – on an unrelated visit – so that they may continue the tale, in whatever direction they choose. Please see the final version below: