Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies, Specialising in Books and Library Materials 2004 - 2006

Edward Cheese

Conservator of Manuscripts and Printed Books

Talk us through your career path since graduating

On leaving West Dean I joined the Cambridge Colleges' Conservation Consortium, working on the Parker manuscript collection at Corpus Christi College to make sure the books were in a safe condition to digitise for the Parker on the Web Project. At the end of the project, I was made permanent and worked at the Consortium for the member Colleges until the end of 2014, for the last three of those years as Conservation Manager. In 2015 I moved to the Fitzwilliam Museum to take up the post of Conservator of Manuscripts and Printed Books (Assistant Keeper), a role which involves looking after the Museum's great manuscript, music, printed book and archive collections, and also delivering conservation services for the Wren Library at Trinity College. I have also served as External Examiner for Book Conservation at West Dean and am an advisor to the Book and Paper Conservation course at City and Guilds of London Art School. I have research and teaching interests in the materials and techniques of book production, particularly in bookbinding history, as well as in conservation theory and practice as applied to objects which still have a mechanical function. 

What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

Cambridge is a very exciting place to be as a book conservator as there are so many great collections located here!  I have been fortunate enough to work on some exceptionally old and wonderfully fine manuscripts, and some very rare printed books. The most satisfying part of the job for me is to be able to work so closely with the material and understand it in detail, but then to have the opportunity to carry out conservation treatments from subtle repairs on damaged leaves, to full-scale rebinding projects to allow the books to be used and enjoyed by present and future generations. 

How do you think studying at West Dean College prepared you for what you do now?

West Dean allowed me to focus intensively on developing my practical skills and supported me in exploring the subject of book conservation in-depth, for which I will be forever grateful. The long hours in the workshop and the encouragement to make the best of skills and opportunities will always stay with me. 

What's your favourite memory from your time at the College?

It is difficult to single out individual favourite memories from my time at the College, as it was such an important period personally for finding out where I wanted to go in life and who I wanted to be; however, walks in the beautiful gardens and arboretum on a summer's evening, to refresh the mind after a day at the bench, are particularly lovely to recall.

Find out more about Conservation courses at West Dean College

Edward Cheese West Dean College Alumnus, Book Conservation