Edward Cheese, ACR, is Conservator of Manuscripts and Printed Books (Assistant Keeper) at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. A specialist in the conservation and binding of medieval manuscripts, rare printed books and archive materials, Edward works on one of the most important museum collections of illuminated manuscripts in the world. He is also responsible for providing high-quality conservation work and advice to the Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge.
QEST supported Edward financially by paying for his second-year tuition fees during his training as a book conservator at West Dean College, West Sussex, allowing him to hone his practical skills whilst developing his interest in the conservation and binding of manuscripts and early printed books. This support was crucial in helping him build up a portfolio of work which resulted in an invitation to join the Cambridge Colleges’ Conservation Consortium at the end of his training to work as the conservator on a project to digitise the world-famous manuscripts in the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. At the end of this project he was made a permanent member of the conservation team, was accredited in 2011, and became Conservation Manager in 2012. In 2015 he moved to his current position at the Fitzwilliam Museum.
Notable projects have included the conservation of a red velvet binding from the Old Royal Library of Henry VIII and the repair of historically important medieval bindings in the College collections in Cambridge. Edward has also conserved and rebound precious medieval and Renaissance manuscripts which have lost their original bindings and were compromised by later, unsuitable binding structures. Particular highlights were the conservation and rebinding of a lavish early fifteenth-century copy of a medieval encyclopaedia for the Fitzwilliam Museum (see https://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/gallery/utc) and the oldest book in Trinity College, a fragment of the Pauline Epistles, written in Durham in the seventh century. Edward has lectured on the subjects of the history of bookbinding and on book conservation, and is keen to support education in these fields. He is currently External Examiner of Book Conservation at West Dean and is involved in several apprenticeship schemes as well as the Institute of Conservation’s Ethics Task and Finish Group.