Restored 18th century trunks return to A La Ronde

National Trust A La Ronde Devon - Three historically important travelling trunks which are believed

National Trust A La Ronde Devon - Three historically important travelling trunks which are believed to date from before 1796 have recently been away for conservation repair and have returned ready for display at A La Ronde nr Lympstone to help tell the story of this unique sixteen-sided house. Tracey Baker – Collections Assistant pcitured - Credit: National Trust Sghaywood Photography

Three historically important travelling trunks, believed to date back to the 18th century, have made the return trip home to Exmouth’s National Trust house A La Ronde. 

The trunks have recently undergone conservation repair and they will be on display at the 16-sided house, helping to tell the properties history. 

They are thought to have gone on the Grand Tour of Europe with Jane and Mary Parminter in the 1780s. It was following this tour that the cousins began creating their home in Exmouth by building A la Ronde around 1796, influenced by what they had seen. 

Unavoidable environmental factors meant the trunks has deteriorated over the last 250 years and they were sent for repair work so they could be displayed at A La Ronde again. 

Jane Birdsall, senior house and collections officer said: “In some ways the trunks begin the story of A la Ronde.  

“Creating the house and estate is what Jane and Mary did when they returned, and what kept them busy for the rest of their lives, as well as thinking beyond that so that their estate, house and collection were looked after well into the future.  

“Something that we continue to do today.”   

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The varying materials that make up the trunks have reacted in different ways to changes in temperature and humidity over the years.   

The leather and the underlying wood, as well as the metal and the glue, have expanded and contracted at different rates, causing cracking and stretching, and ultimately breaking. 

National Trust A La Ronde Devon - Three historically important travelling trunks which are believed

National Trust A La Ronde Devon - Three historically important travelling trunks which are believed to date from before 1796 have recently been away for conservation repair and have returned ready for display at A La Ronde nr Lympstone to help tell the story of this unique sixteen-sided house. = Jane Birdsall - Senior Collections and House Officer pictured - Credit: National Trust Sghaywood Photography

Theo Sturge from Sturge Conservation Studio who worked on the trunks over the last few months. 

The trunks had significant areas of the leather missing and much of the remainder was loose, but the skilled conservator replaced the missing parts and coloured to match.  

Friable original leather was consolidated, repaired and cleaned, and treated to improve its condition. The paper and material inside was reattached.   

Theo said: ‘These were three wonderful little trunks to work on, I loved the little numbers made with small nails.  

“They were very sad when they came to me and it was a pleasure to bring them back to life by inserting new archival quality leather behind the original to bring them back together.”