by Jo Clarke, Marketing and Communications Officer

Last month we collected six items relating to Sir Francis Drake from Buckland Abbey.

The items had been on loan to the National Trust for many years. Their return marked the start of a new phase for Buckland, which will be exploring its history in new ways in the future. It also marked another milestone for us as the items will be displayed in our ‘100 Journeys’ gallery when we open. You can find out more about the background to this here.

I was lucky enough to spend the day at Buckland with members of our Collections Team and it was fascinating to watch them in action as they condition checked and packed the objects ready to be taken to our offsite store. I took loads of images and have included as many of them as possible in today’s post to hopefully give you an insight too. I also captured lots of (amateur) video. The light levels in the gallery made filming a bit tricky but I’ve stitched the best bits together to try and summarise the day.

The first and largest item the team dealt with was Drake’s Drum – one of only a few surviving early European side drums, the likes of which were used as calls to action or for entertainment. It’s generally believed that this drum was among 13 rescued from Drake’s fatal last voyage to the Caribbean in 1595.

The drum is set to be one of the star objects in the Drake section of our ‘100 Journeys’ gallery. The team carefully lifted it out of its showcase, checked it over, wrapped it in acid-free tissue paper and then placed in a Plastazote-lined case. Plastazote is an odourless, non-toxic, durable but lightweight foam that is great for cushioning objects and minimising impact and vibration whilst they’re in transit.

Brian and Julie Perring and Colin Briggs from Buckland Abbey’s team of volunteers were there to witness the drum being packed and moved. In many ways it was the end of an era for them. They’re very proud of Buckland’s history and visitor experience. Our thanks go to them for the information they shared with us on the day and their willingness to give us a short interview.

The second item was a portrait of Drake by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. After being lifted and taken off the wall it was soft-wrapped ready for its move. Extra care was taken to protect the edges and the gilding of the frame.

Two books have also been returned to us – an anthology of Drake’s voyages in the 1600s and a ‘Record of Navigational Star Sights’.

The books were removed from their cases, condition checked and safely wrapped in tissue paper before being placed in sealed bags and then a box. The books have been displayed open for a long time so extra care needed to be taken to prevent any damage to their pages or spines.

The Drake Cup was next on our list – a really beautiful object.

The Cup has its own purpose-built box which is lined with Plastazote, so it was removed from its case, safely placed in it and secured with extra tissue paper padding.

The final object was a ship model of the Golden Hind.

It’s a high quality scale model and is in great condition.

Steve and Jacqui from our Collections Team secured the model to a cradle on a base board. This was then secured to a transit board that would keep it safe in the van.

The team worked hard all day and each object required a different approach to packing and being moved. Once safely loaded on to our van everything was taken to our offsite store. The objects are now undergoing assessment. Any necessary conservation treatments will then be carried out to prepare them for the ‘100 Journeys’ gallery.

A huge thank you to the staff and volunteers at Buckland Abbey who have cared for these items while they’ve been on loan and who helped us on the day. We’re looking forward to working in partnership with them on new initiatives in the future – and to all the visitors to The Box being able to see these objects on display in 2020. I’ll wrap up this post with a short video clip with Steve, our Conservation Officer, as he sums up the day.