arrow-leftarrow-rightclose downloademail Facebookinstagramlinkedin pinterestplussearch tripadvisortwitter
Leeds Castle News19 January 2016

A day in the life of… The collections care officer Pete Bonta

When you visit the near 900 year old Leeds Castle and admire the beautiful objects
within, spare a moment for Pete whose job it is to care for these objects and
make sure they are in the best possible condition, now and hopefully for another
900 years.

For him it’s not only the history of some of these wonderful pieces, but moreover
the craftsmanship and skill that goes into making them and in some cases manufacturing
skills that have been lost to time. Whilst he finds this aspect unendingly
interesting, he has to concern himself with everyday details; being constantly
on the alert for any signs of pest infestation as well as conserving and cleaning
objects to look their best, but never to be ‘over’ cleaned which can be even
more damaging.

The largest project Pete has undertaken to date has been the eighteen months
he spent cleaning all of the 135 collars in the famous ‘Leeds Castle Dog Collar
Collection’ which reopened in August 2015. The museum was completely redesigned
to show the collars to their best advantage and to be equally fascinating to
children and adults alike. After all, it is the largest collection of its kind
on public display anywhere in the world! In fact Pete was so engrossed in the
job, that on his first day working at the Castle, he completely lost track
of time while conserving one of the finest 16th Century collars and managed
to get himself locked up inside the Castle.

When he isn’t being locked in buildings, Pete enjoys researching the history
of objects, keen to constantly discover and learn new things. His favourite
room in the Castle is the “bird-crazy madness” of Lady Baillie’s bedroom with
its priceless collection of rare 18th Century china cranes. He also loves the
quirky clock in the Library which is adorned with sea shells, fruit
and a swan’s head. For him it represents the character and wide mixture of
collections and wildlife to be found at Leeds Castle.