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Leeds Castle News20 March 2019

Behind the Teams: Leeds Castle Curator

As part of our new ‘Behind the Teams’ series, step behind the scenes of Leeds Castle and hear from the experts who work here about their day-to-day work, where their passions lie, and what their jobs involve. 

We are proud to have such a wonderful curatorial department at Leeds Castle. With an expertise spanning from the restoration of furnishings to collection documentation, it’s the job of Curator Annie Kemkaran-Smith to ensure the protection of the Leeds Castle collection for future generations.

We speak to Annie about what her role entails, the restoration of Castle rooms, and what to look out for during your next visit.

How long have you worked at the Castle? 

I started here in August 2015 – so I’ve been here almost four years now.

What’s the best thing about being the Curator for Leeds Castle? 

I love that every day is different! I get to work with different teams throughout the estate and carry out large scale refurbishment projects. This can involve anything from researching historic fabric, to supervising the decant of large and extremely valuable objects. It’s really varied and there’s always something to do.

Have there been any particular moments or milestones during your time here that have stood out to you? 

The first major project I completed here was the refurbishment of Yellow Drawing Room inside the Castle. The room’s silk wall hangings had suffered from years of light and environmental damage, resulting in severe wear and degradation, so needed replacing. I had to research where the original silk had come from and managed to get an exact replica made to replace it. All of the objects in the room also needed some level of conservation, but the large mirror above the piano was in a very bad state and had to be completely dismantled to undergo treatment.

Do you have a favourite historical artefact in the Castle that visitors should look out for during their visit?

My favourite artefact within the Castle is the charcoal sketch of Lady Baillie’s Great Danes, Boots and Danny, which hangs on the wall at the start of the upper bridge corridor. Lady Baillie loved dogs, and as a fellow dog lover, I can really understand why she would have commissioned a portrait of them. They were quite naughty animals and I think the portrait depicts their mischevious nature!

Favourite area on the Castle estate? 

I have a few favourite spots around the estate. One of them is the ruined Mill, since it’s such a picturesque area. Another is underneath one of the willows looking back at the cascade – it’s the perfect spot for a summer’s afternoon.

To find out more about Leeds Castle’s ongoing conservation projects, visit the Restoration page here.