Blog: Conservation of Strokestown Leases

Blog: Conservation of Strokestown Leases

The Archive at Strokestown Park is a rare example of an intact Estate Records Collection dating from the late C18th to the mid C20th centuries.

As part of our goal to make the archives of Strokestown Park accessible to researchers, we have received funding from the Heritage Council and the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage in 2020 to have 90 fragile leases professionally conserved.

One of the 90 leases with attached map

Dated 24 October 1807, this 21-year lease was between Maurice Mahon of Strokestown Park and members of the Fallon, McDonnell and Kelly families. It’s for 28 acres 3 roods and 39 perches of land at Killinervan, County Roscommon. The annual rent was £36 4s 10d.

Dating from the early 1800s the leases contain information on tenants on the Mahon estate, the land they rented and amount of rent they paid. Used in conjunction with our surviving Estate Rentals and 100 previously-conserved leases, the leases will provide researchers with a unique overview of small-scale landholding on the estate prior to the upheaval and depopulation of The Famine.

Closeup of seals and signatures, including wax seal of Lord Hartland and tenant names marked with an ‘x’

Conservation work has been carried out by Benjamin van de Wetering of The Ox Bindery, a professional conservator, whose conservation studio is nestled in the Ox Mountains in County Sligo. The leases have been listed by our archivist and the list will published on this site. It is hoped that the list and the leases will be accessible in time for the Irish Famine Summer School in Strokestown Park next summer, 2021.

Benjamin has used a variety of conservation techniques including deacidification, leaf casting and resizing to stabilize these unique documents. In this blog we showcase this conservation process using one of our leases and demonstrating the specialised techniques used.

 

This project received funding from the Heritage Council of Ireland and the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage in 2020

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The Conservation Process

(Photographs kindly provided by Benjamin and Ineke van de Wetering of the Ox Bindery https://www.oxbindery.ie/)

        

Assessment of damage to our lease with closeup of one damaged area. Fixing seals to stabilise them and then separating the lease from the attached map

 

      
Pre-wetting with alc-water mix. Using a support sheet to transfer the lease

 

Washing the lease by immersion in a water bath

 

          

Filling leafcaster with water, placing leafcasting mesh, transferring the lease to leafcaster using support sheet and then removing support sheet

 

      

Masking area with latex, correcting rips and folds, inserting weighing down mesh, filling leafcaster with water, creating new paper pulp and floating this mixture over lease

 

Placing lease between two felt boards having first removed leafcasting mesh, cover sheet and support sheet

  

Lease transferred to a paper press for pressing.

Release from felt after pressing.

Drying leases in a Drying Rack

Sizing with Gelatine/ Applying Wheat Starch Paste/ Applying Kozo Tissue Backing

Trimming excess tissue/Flattening undulations

Reattaching Map to Lease

The Finished Conserved Lease

Before and After Conservation
Particulars of all the leases entered into a database by the Archivist.

Noting names of lessees (tenants), lessor (landlord) and witnesses, townland, acreage (acres, roods and perches), annual rent, date and term of lease and other details ready for publishing in 2021…..

 

This project received funding from the Heritage Council of Ireland and the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage in 2020