A blog by Connected intern Lewis Monkley

Since the end of November 2017 I have been working with Lincoln Cathedral Connected as the new Conservation Intern where I have been given the opportunity to gain valuable experience and put to use my skills and knowledge that I learned during my time at university. I am a fairly recent graduate and completed my degree in Conservation & Restoration at the University of Lincoln last summer. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and found many aspects fascinating, I enjoyed the range of objects I got to research and work on, but perhaps most of all it cemented the idea that this is what I wanted to do for a career.

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Upon completion of my degree I started the dreaded process of job applications, I looked at roles all over the country at a variety of different Historic Houses, Museums and Archives. I wanted to secure a good starting role that would help develop my skills and lead on from my time at university.  Naturally I was excited about the opportunity of an Internship with Lincoln Cathedral Connected. After spending the last three years in Lincoln I felt familiar with the city and I had always taken every opportunity to make the trek up Steep Hill to view the sites such as the Castle and Cathedral. I liked the thought of playing my part in the long line of men and women who have dedicated a great deal of their time and effort to caring for both the Cathedral and its Collection.

From the start the Internship has exceeded my expectations, the team in the Connected Office have been incredibly friendly and welcoming, quickly making me feel comfortable in my new role. I was lucky enough to begin at an interesting time, The Collections Audit had uncovered a variety of objects in the collection which required attention. Some had very little information with them allowing me to conduct research whilst others were at risk from improper packaging. I was tasked with working my way through these objects and ensuring their correct documentation and safety for the years to come whilst also assessing their condition.

I’ve really enjoyed the diversity of objects I’ve had the chance to examine, ranging from the medieval period all the way up to the modern. The seals were a particular favourite due to the variety of designs and the intricate detail of the craftsmanship that went into producing them. Almost all the items I have been assigned so far have required new packaging to ensure their safe storage. This means I have been spending a lot of time building bespoke boxes using a number of materials such as conservation grade card, acid free tissue and plasterzote. Some have been simple to construct whilst others required more innovative designs due to the objects needs. It’s been a very rewarding experience as you feel a sense of accomplishment upon completion knowing that the items will now be preserved for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

I have also been given the opportunity to help out with a number of other activities. I started in time to support Lincoln Cathedral Connected during the Christmas Market where we were set up in The Old Deanery. It was wonderful to see the public’s interest in in the Connected project. We had the plans for the new building and renovations on display alongside a number of objects from the collection, some of which I had already began working on. People were keen to ask questions and displayed a genuine interest in Connected’s goals. I have also had the chance to help with the recording and documentation of a large quantity of archaeological finds which have been sitting in a number of boxes.

I certainly feel I’ve learned a lot about identifying different types of pottery from working my way through the boxes, even if it did take a while to wrap my head around. It was engaging seeing the variety of items and the range of objects from different time periods that could be found in one area. Certainly, some of it won’t be going on display anytime soon, a penny from the 1950s and the various lumps of lead spring to mind. Another interesting find was a human skull which may involve the creation of some digital reconstructions of the persons face to be completed in the near future.

I’ve still got a lot to do but so far I can’t thank the Cathedral Connected team enough for the opportunity. It’s always a highlight being allocated a new group of items from the collection to examine and conduct a bit of research on and I look forward seeing what they have in store for me next. I already feel I’ve been able to build upon the skills that I learned at university since starting this role, especially in the fields of documentation and conservation packaging. I hope by the end of this internship that I will have developed these skills further and feel confident in my ability for whatever the future holds.