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

Leeds Castle News -

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. 

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