Nigel Seeley Fellowship (Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent, United Kingdom)


Knole Conservation Studio, located in Sevenoaks, Kent, Knole is a unique piece of cultural heritage that sits in a beautiful and well-used deer park just off Sevenoaks High Street. Built as an Archbishop’s palace and transformed into a lavish Jacobean country house by the Sackville family, six centuries of history are contained in one of the largest houses in England. Knole has been in the National Trust’s care since 1946.

The Inspired by Knole project began in 2012, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is one of the National Trust’s largest ever conservation projects. The purpose of this project is to protect Knole and its collection “forever for everyone” and also demonstrate to visitors to Knole how conservators preserve history through conservation, both preventative and interventative.

During the last four years, Knole has been under-going a program of essential repairs. The Inspired by Knole project, running through 2018, includes building an on-site conservation studio and learning space to conserve and share Knole’s fragile collection; opening up new spaces in the house; restoring and improving the Brewhouse cafe; and transforming the visitor experience within the showrooms. This project will broaden the National Trust’s community engagement work, creating new opportunities for local people to engage with the property through volunteering, programmed activity, and an enhanced and more diverse visitor experience.

The new Conservation Studio sits at the heart of Knole. This facility is an important asset for the National Trust, Kent and the South East region. From the summer of 2016 to 2019, the studio will conserve a large percentage of the collections from Knole House. Gilded frames and furniture form a very large component of these collections.

The 2018 fellowship assignment
The assignment will be a 12-week project focused on textile conservation. The fellow will work alongside Heather Porter, Senior Conservator, on historically significant upholstered furniture from the 17th- and 18th-century Knole collection.

The main element of this project will be to provide interventive conservation work to stools from a suite of furniture dating from 1640 that retain their original upholstery. The stools were originally part of the spectacular Spangled Bedroom, alongside the stunning Spangled Bed, which has been lovingly and painstakingly conserved at Blickling Textile Conservation Studio.

The chosen individual will work in the new conservation studio in front of visitors to Knole. The Fellow will be engaging in the future of conservation by sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for the profession with visitors, students and volunteers. Additionally, the Fellow will be immersed in the National Trust’s decision-making processes and approaches to treatment to deliver high quality treatments during the next phase of the collection’s history.

Fellowship benefits

  • $8,000 stipend
  • $1,500 travel subsidy
  • $1,500 housing subsidy OR complimentary housing depending on project location
  • Opportunity to work in the UK with senior National Trust staff in fine art conservation. Experience working with specialist National Trust staff at Knole, Sevenoaks.
  • Participation towards developing significant skills working directly with senior staff of the National Trust’s conservation studio.
  • Visits to additional NT sites throughout the UK.

Supervision and location
The Fellow will be based at the National Trust’s Conservation Studio at Knole, Sevenoaks and work directly with Heather Porter and Michaela Hall.

Equipment Requirements: All equipment necessary for the completion of the fellowship will be supplied by the National Trust.

Candidate requirements

  • Graduate in recognized conservation course and 1-3 years work experience (or equivalent)
  • Good organizational and communication skills;
  • American citizenship, with a passport remaining valid until July 2019
  • The Fellow will work as part of a team, and should have the ability to work well under pressure and communicate complex issues clearly. The Fellow will submit written reports to both the National Trust and The Royal Oak Foundation. The Fellow must be comfortable engaging with members of the public visiting the Knole Conservation Studio, and be willing to share his/her experience on The Royal Oak Foundation website.
  • The Fellow should carry health insurance.

Start date
After October 2018 with flexible start date.

Who should apply
Applications are welcome from individuals at any career point, with 1 to 3 years of professional experience. Applicants should hold graduate degrees or certificates in art conservation with a focus on furniture, decorative arts, and/or objects.

Fellowship stipend
For the fellowship period, the fellow will receive an educational stipend of $8,000.00 to be paid in two installments. The fellow will also receive complimentary housing or a $1,500.00 housing subsidy depending on the location of the project, and a travel subsidy up to $1,500.00 for international and any train travel.

Fellow will be responsible for travel arrangements, food and other personal expenses associated with the fellowship. Each applicant must also pay a $40.00 fee, payable by becoming a Royal Oak Student/Young Professional member. You can become a member by visiting the website: When joining, write “Nigel Seeley Fellowship” in the comment field before completing the checkout process.

Application deadline
The application deadline is August 15 and the Fellowship will take place after October 2018 in the U.K. Successful applicants will be notified in early September.

How to apply
Click here to download and complete the application. To submit your application, please email materials to Please include the downloaded and signed form with your email.

More about the Nigel Seeley Fellowship
Established in 2016, the fellowship provides training and educational opportunities for individuals with a professional interest in the preservation of historic interiors, finishes, and collections. The fellowship will enrich young professionals’ lives by offering first-hand experience of the National Trust’s world-class techniques, houses, and collections.

Named for the former National Trust’s Head of Conservation, Dr. Nigel Seeley (1989-2002), the fellowship is awarded to professionals spanning careers from conservators, heritage craftsmen, collection managers, to environmental engineers, lighting specialists, and pest specialists.

The fellowship joins Royal Oak’s established Damaris Horan Fellowship. Both fellowships provide talented Americans the chance to gain hands-on experience through the National Trust’s expertise and renowned educational training. Fellowships will be offered biennially, alternating years between each prize.