Conservation Guidelines

Conservation Guidelines

Conservation work is guided by internationally accepted statements of principle as defined by various heritage bodies such as ICOMOS, Historic England, the Institute of Conservation and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. The links above will download the statements of conservation principles by these organisations.

In terms of heritage ironwork, these core principles can be summarized as:

  •  Analyse, understand and assess the significance of the object
  •  Record the object as found and at all stages of work
  •  Care for and maintain the object to halt or control decay
  •  Minimise interventions and make informed treatment choices
  •  Retain original fabric and finishes wherever possible
  •  Source specific expertise where needed

First published in November 2017 our booklet, ‘Conservation Guidelines’, provides an introduction to the practical application of conservation philosophy.

The aim of this book is to summarize key points of universally accepted principles in relation to ironwork, making them accessible to those unfamiliar with the subject. This publication will help you to navigate the decision-making process from an informed standpoint.

Purchase the full-colour printed booklet through our shop: Conservation Principles with Illustrated Guidelines

An abbreviated text-only document is available for download here:   NHIG Conservation Guidelines (.pdf)

Take a look at this preview: Conservation Principles with Illustrated Guidelines TASTER (.pdf)

These guidelines are intended to inform and guide decisions at all stages of conservation work to forged and cast iron; they provide a comprehensive and ethical framework around which informed judgments can be made. The aim is not to invent something new, but to aid the practical interpretation and application of universally accepted general conservation principles by making them specifically relevant to ironwork.

The conservation guidelines set a standard of practice for those who provide advice, make decisions about or undertake work on heritage forged and cast iron work. The purpose of standardising practice is to ensure consistency and make sure that the significance of the work carried out is fully appreciated and that those involved are accountable for the work they do.

It is important to appreciate that ‘core principles’ and ‘best practice’ are essentially aspirational in stating ideals. It is therefore essential to adopt a flexible approach to their interpretation, in order to determine how best to apply them to the individual circumstances of any given case or location.


British Artist Blacksmiths Association

National Trust

The National Trust

Ironmongers Company

Ironmongers Company

Institute of Conservation

Institute of Conservation

English Heritage

English Heritage


The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths


The NHIG Conservation Principles document has been endorsed by the National Trust, English Heritage, Icon, The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers and BABA.

The NHIG ironework conservation principles were carefully developed, following a process which included two public forums and a peer review process. The Peer Review panel was chaired by Rory Cullen, Head of Buildings for the National Trust, and he was joined by Katy Lithgow, Head Conservator for the National Trust; Kate Gunthorpe, Senior Building Surveyor for English Heritage; Deborah Cane, ICON representative; Ali Davey of Historic Scotland; Rupert Harris of Rupert Harris Conservation and Dr Bruce Induni, SPAB representative.

The Working Group was chaired by Geoff Wallis, proprietor of Wallis Conservation and former Director of Dorothea Restorations Ltd; he was joined by Elizabeth Green, Curator for The National Trust; Bethan Griffiths, Director of The Ironwork Studio; David James, Director of George James & Sons Blacksmiths; Adrian Legge, Senior Blacksmithing tutor for Hereford College; Andrew Naylor, Director of Hall Conservation; Chris Topp, Director of Chris Topp & Co Ironworks.