Back to the Deep Clean!

November has been a very busy month, and when we have not been decorating for Christmas we have been getting stuck back in to our Deep Annual Clean! As with last year we have lots of other projects scheduled over the winter so getting all we need to done will be an interesting challenge. But in the mean time I have been enjoying having some time with the objects.

One clean, one Dusty

One clean, one Dusty

We start our Deep Clean on the top floor in the High Great Chamber where I have been cleaning the Farthingale Chairs. These chairs were supposedly designed so that ladies wearing Farthingale Petticoats, with large hoops underneath their skirts, could perch on them to rest between dances.

Some of the embroidered detail on the chairs

Some of the embroidered detail on the chairs

These chairs have stunning 16th Century embroidery on them, featuring flowers and insects. They match the Canopy I had the opportunity to clean last year.

The High Great Chamber Canopy

The High Great Chamber Canopy (before cleaning)

As well as chairs we have stools and two throne chairs, which have really interesting scenes on them in beautiful gold-work.

The back of one of the Throne Chairs

The back of one of the Throne Chairs

Embroidered Deer

Embroidered Deer

To remove the dust I used a mixture of techniques. We use an adjustable suction ‘Museum-Vac’ with crevice tool attachment through bridal netting and using artists brushes as we were trained by the Textile Conservators last year. The brushes work better on certain areas because the can remove strands of clothing fibers that have landed on the velvet which would otherwise be left underneath the bridal netting.

One of the Throne Chairs

One of the Throne Chairs half way through cleaning

I also used the brushes near the metallic embroidery, this removed the risk of the metal threads getting hooked on the bridal netting and pulled. However the bridal netting method is better for the rest embroidery, it is so delicate that the brushes could cause damage by removing any loose pieces.

I love the Deep Clean because we get a chance to really look at the objects we care for, and they are such amazing and beautiful objects. It is one of my favorite things about this job!

Naughtiness in Nottingham

A few weeks ago I had a good friend to stay so we decided to have a heritage day out in Nottingham. I haven’t been to Nottingham since I was 18, it was a birthday treat which I really enjoyed it so I thought it was high time to spend another day there.

To start the day, after I had found the car park, we went to Nottingham Castle. To my surprise and delight there was a medieval re-enactment taking place! Robin Hood even put in an appearance. Walking around the Living History encampment felt like home. There was also an archery tournament, but with a twist. The teams of archers were aiming for a moving target stuck on top of a knight’s helm. It was very entertaining to watch, and the Robin Hood and his Merry Men crashed the party!

Robin Hood! I knew he was real

Robin Hood! I knew he was real

After the show we went for a wander around the castle, which is now a museum. I loved the idea behind their first exhibition, that every object tells a story. This is so true and I often find myself thinking about how the object I am working with got to that point. I love the story of Bess going on a shopping spree in London to buy furniture, and picking out these items for her new home. I would love to know just what she though about each one, what attracted her to them and why she placed there where she did.

WP_003220

The second exhibition we saw at the Castle was a temporary exhibition about the First World War. I found this fascinating as I have an interest in the subject anyway. I never knew that the metal helmets we are so used to seeing weren’t introduced until nearly half way through the war. I cannot believe they sent soldiers into war without head protection, it seems crazy. There was a case featuring some ‘Trench Art’ made from shelling casing and other materials that would have been found in the trenches. I had seen some of this before and the creativity they showcase is amazing, especially given that what the soldiers were going through was unimaginably horrific.

Trench Art

Trench Art

WP_003221

After the castle we stopped for a bite to eat, and then went to jail!

Ellen's Mug Shot

Just kidding, we went to visit the Galleries of Justice at the old court-house. I have visited before and really enjoyed myself so was excited to go again.

When you arrive at the Galleries and buy a ticket you are given a criminal number to take with you on your tour. The first half of the tour is led by characters, and the second half is self led. We were first taken by a judge into the court, for our fates to be determined. The court room was beautiful, all carved wooden benches and a very impressive judges chair so you couldn’t forget who was in charge.

WP_003224

The court-house was very well designed in that if found guilty, as we unfortunately were, you could be led straight from the court room down into the jail. There we were told to look at our criminal numbers and find out our crimes, and more importantly our punishments. Mine said I was to be tied to a cart and flogged. This part of the tour went down really well with the group, and had us all chatting and giggling with one another about our crimes.

Wall of Infamy

Wall of Infamy

After this we met with the executioner. He was quite sinister and talked us through his job, life (and death) in the jail, and even let us sample some of the cells. From here we were let loose to explore the jail and learn about the reforms made to the system. We finally made it outside to the yard to be greeted by a hangman who had made a science out of execution. He was a real gent and clearly very passionate about his job, each to their own I suppose.

The Hang Man

The Hang Man

Next, narrowly escaping the noose we were sent for transportation, and then on to learn about prison breaks and finally the modern prison system. At the end of the tour was a temporary exhibition about crime and punishment during the First World War, and all the extra duties police men had to keep the country safe from spies. There was also an exhibition about a man who had drowned his three wives in a bath tub, who we had heard about in the court room. The galleries even had the murderous bathtub on display.

Hez in the stocks

Hez in the stocks

Solitary Confinement

Solitary Confinement

We really enjoyed our day out in Nottingham and I can’t wait to go back and discover more, as there seems to be so much to do there. I love having exciting new places to discover so close to home!

Encountering Moseley Old Hall

Just after I had returned from my visit to Packwood and Baddesley I was off to another Trust property, this time for a training day!

As part of a large project taking place at Hardwick which I seem to have taken on a large part of the responsibility for me and Sadie have been going on several training courses. The latest of which was hosted at Moseley Old Hall, a lovely property in the Midlands with a very exciting story to tell.

Moseley Old Hall

Moseley Old Hall

The project we are taking part in looks at how to tell our properties stories in a different way, through active engagement and conversation. I got involved in this project thanks to my background as a re-enactor and am really enjoying it so far, even if it is going to be a lot of hard work!

We were having our meeting at Moseley as they have already been through the project that Hardwick is now undertaking. Recently Moseley decided to open Mondays and Tuesdays, when traditionally they had always been closed. The team saw this as an opportunity and decided to have these days manned by volunteer costumed interpreters.

Making Reed Tapers

Making Reed Tapers

Every so often they also have a special event where the volunteer team stage the day to be the most dramatic day in Moseley’s history, the day they harbored King Charles II after the battle of Worcester in 1651. I really want to go and visit on this day, it sounds fantastic! It is a really bold move that the team have made but so far it seems to be working for them.

The Dresser in the Brew-House

The Dresser in the Brew-House

In the afternoon we had the opportunity to wander around the hall, meet the volunteers and see what activities they were doing. We started on the middle floor and so we went through several rooms before we encountered a volunteer, which left us with a strange sense of almost naughty freedom that you don’t usually find yourself with in a National Trust property (unless of course you work there!).

As we were exploring we found the Priest Hole King Charles had hidden in. It was nice to just discover the hall for ourselves but it worries me that if I had not had someone with me who knew the property I would have missed the significance of this unassuming hole in the floor.

The Priest Hole

The Priest Hole

At one point I get distracted by their brilliant fake fires! This is what happens when you work in the heritage industry, you get excited by the most random things and are always looking for good ideas to inspire you. The fake fire in this grate even ‘smoked’!

The Fake Fire

The Fake Fire+–

The volunteers were doing things like making Reed Tapers in front of the real fire and explaining period board games, which kept us all amused for quite a while! Several of the games where ones I play when I am my Medieval alter-ego. It was nice that Moseley has the freedom to light fires in the grate and space for these interactive activities.

I also spotted a really beautiful clock in the Entrance Hall. I quite like clocks because they are such a practical object that is regularly so beautifully made and ornately decorated! I always enjoyed being responsible for winding all the clock at Greyfriars.

The Clock

The Clock

A glimps of the pretty Garden through the window

A glimps of the pretty Garden through the window

The outdoors at Moseley is just as beautiful as the indoors, and there is just as much to discover. At the end of our meeting we were told about Moseley’s new Tree House! Me and Sadie decided we just had to go and have a look for ourselves, and we were not disappointed! With a special pot of money Moseley had created an outdoor adventure area including a mammoth Tree House, with steps, ladders, scramble path and rope! Here are some pics of me ‘testing’ the Tree House out.

The Tree House

The Tree House

Testing out the rope

Testing out the rope

Pretty Packwood and a bit more Baddesley

Recently I went down to stay with my dear friend and help out at her work, as well as indulge in some much need catching up over tea and cake! Becky is the Heritage Manager at Droitwich Heritage Centre and I help them out by doing some conservation work there.

Cleaning porcelain

Cleaning porcelain

I started my career by volunteering and it is nice to still be doing some, especially knowing that what I am doing would other wise probably not get done. Money is so tight in the heritage industry and smaller places must be all they can to juggle all their needs on a small budget.

Shiny!

Shiny!

I have been down several times before to train staff and volunteers and to set up some good conservation practice. Doing something like this gives me chance to stretch my conservation muscles! This visit we did some object handling, metal polishing and decorated for Halloween! I just have to say that fake cobwebs are so much fun to play with!! I have since covered my house and the Still Room at Hardwick as well!

Halloween in Drotiwich

Halloween in Drotiwich

Spookyfying the Still Room

Spookyfying the Still Room

When I was not helping at the TIC we decided to do a little Trust visiting and go to Packwood House and, since it was so close, go to Baddesley Clinton again too. Packwood is known for its collection of tapestries, so obviously I was very interested to see their interpretation. The house was restored by Graham Baron Ash in the 1920’s & 1930’s.

Packwood House

Packwood House

The interpretation was done in a similar manner to that at Baddesley, where it was presented on objects, like printed on a rug or even a reproduction tapestry. I really like this style of interpretation. I tend not to want to read long pieces of information until after I have finished looking around a property, unless I want to find out something in particular. That’s why I always try to buy a guidebook, so I can read more about the property at a later date (and look up info’ for blog posts!). They had chosen to put quotes about Baron Ash, the house and the gardens from past visitors and guidebooks around the house.

Tapestry Interpretation

Tapestry Interpretation

 

Personally these quotes didn’t grip me or give me a sense of who Baron Ash was, as they were supposed to. I don’t know if this had something to do with the fact that I did not see a picture of Graham Baron Ash in the house (I may have missed it if there was one). Other properties where you get a strong sense of the people their faces are imprinted in your mind as a starting point for any other information to grow from. I left feeling like I wanted to know more about the man who I though you could admire for his take on conservation and for saving and creating such a unique property, specifically for visitors to enjoy.

Conservation Interpretation (and pretty embroidery)

Conservation Interpretation (and pretty embroidery)

However we did find out some really interesting information while we were there, like the fact that the timbers used in the building were recycled from Henry VIII ships! They can tell this by the crown symbol carved into one of the beams. There is also some graffiti carved into another beam, pictures of sailing ships, that they believe were done by the sailors on their long voyages. I love how something you could easily take for granted in a Tudor building has such a history of its own.

The royal symbol on one of the beams

The royal symbol on one of the beams

I really enjoyed that fact that the house didn’t have a visitor route, you were able to wander around how you wanted to and that made it feel like we were exploring. We were given a map with bits of information on which we used at the end of our visit to check we had seen everywhere. I also loved the floors upstairs, they were uneven and made some of the rooms feel like you were sliding down to one corner. I love this about older houses, and at Packwood it really reminded me of Greyfriars, where I had my first job with the National Trust.

Packwood's Gardens

Packwood’s Gardens

Packwood’s gardens were really beautiful and somewhere I would like to go back to on a sunny day to fully explore. After stopping at Packwood’s restaurant for a cup of tea and slice of delicious chocolate cake our little party went on to Baddesley. It really contrasted with Packwood in how strong the many characters in Baddesley’s story are, and how full an image you get of them. The property has several paintings or photographs of the people it talks about which makes me thing there is something to my theory of needing that image to form an idea around. I really enjoyed it again and so did my friends, as you can see in this photo!

Becky and Chris enjoying Baddesley

Becky and Chris enjoying Baddesley

Major Lord John Spencer Cavendish

Lord John's Armour displayed in the Entrance Hall

I have been really interested in all of the events commemorating the centenary of the First World War and was hoping I could contribute in some small way.

Hardwick has its own connection to the war in one of the members of the Cavendish family, affectionately known as ‘Lord John’.

We have Lord John’s suit of armour on display in the back of the Entrance Hall, and I had never really though about its history or the man who had owned it. With it being a suit of armour I didn’t even consider that it could have such a connection to the First World War. The two images, ‘knight in shining armour’ and ‘tommy in the trenches’, seem like they should be hundreds of years apart and not within the span of one man’s career.

http://www.masonicgreatwarproject.org.uk/images/individual/cavenjs.jpg

Lord John was born on the 25th March 1875 to Emma Elizabeth Lascelles and Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Edward Cavendish, has was the youngest of their three sons.

As the youngest son John would not inherit the family property, or be expected to follow his father into politics, so he made the military his career. He joined the First Regiment of Life Guards, a Cavalry Regiment, on the 3rd February 1897.

He was part of the First Regiment of Life Guards and served with distinction in the South African Was, for which he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order in April 1901. When the Great War broke out in 1914 Lord John joined the British Expeditionary Forces and was deployed to France on the 16th August 1914.

Less than three months later on the 20th October 1914 Major Lord John Spencer Cavendish was killed in action.

An account of John’s death by an unknown soldier, dated 24th October 1914, who served alongside him recalls that John was killed instantly by German Maxim Machine Gun fire whilst leading a regiment trying to hold the line in the village. The account talks about how well liked John was, saying that he was so nice to work with, and how much his regiments would feel his loss.

After his death Lord John’s family received a huge number of letters of condolence, showing how well thought of he, and his family, were thought of. Lord John had a successful military career earning the respect of those he served with and recognition for his good service.

I started my search for information within Hardwick’s own information, then looking on Google (where else!) where I found a website that catalogs graves: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=55956202

The Find A Grave website was really useful for getting the basic information and then using Ancestry.com, a brilliant site for this sort of research, I was able to flesh out the story a little more. I typed in the little bits of information I had found already and Ancestry recommended sources it thought matched, so helpful. I ended up finding several scanned images of primary sources which were absolutely fascinating!

Finally I contacted Chatsworth Archives to see if they could help me with any information about the actual circumstances of Lord John’s death. All I had up to this point was dates when things happened, but no details which was frustrating. I had though they would be too busy to help but they were really helpful and had a number of sources, including the account of Lord John’s I mentioned above.

I have really enjoyed doing this project and even though the story had a tragic end it was nice to know Lord John was so well though of, I have become rather fond of him! On monday I shall be remembering Major Lord John Spencer Cavendish and the men like him who served in the Great War for what they believed was right.

If you want to find some more information about the events taking place over the next four years or about the men who gave their live in the Great War I have included some links I found interesting and useful below.

First World War Centenary Information: www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/first-world-war-centenary

Lives of the First World War: www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org

Every Man Remembered: www.everymanremembered.org

Imperial War Museums: www.iwm.org.uk/corporate/projects-partnerships/first-world-war-centenary-partnership

A correction

So as I mentioned in my 100th post, I love learning new things, and have learnt so much since working with the National Trust! I learnt another new thing the other day from a colleague, about some false information I had posted on my blog a little while ago.

In my post about Smythson’s year I posted this picture and said it was a Mason’s Mark outside the Hall:

The OS Bench Mark

The OS Bench Mark

However I was told by one of Hardwick’s own team of Masons that it is actually an Ordnance Survey Bench Mark, so I did a bit of research to understand exactly what this means.

An Ordnance Survey Bench Marks were used so that when you found the mark you know the exact height above sea level of where you are. There are around 500 000 marks still around, but that number is waning as buildings are redeveloped and since the system is no longer being maintained the Bench Marks are not being replaced. I found all this information on the Ordnance Survey website, found here: http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/benchmarks/

So now I know I have a feeling I shall be spotting these marks everywhere!

Caldicot Castle and Croome Park

A few weekends ago we did our final re-enactment show of the year at Caldicot Castle, in Wales. It was the furthest I have ever driven in one go since passing me test so on the way back mum booked us a hotel so we could split the journey in two and visit a few National Trust properties on the way.

The view of the authentic camp from the top of the castle

The view of the authentic camp from the top of the castle

I have always loved Caldicot, with it being the final show of the year everyone is in really good spirits, and it feels like a real celebration of the season! After the battle me and some friends took the chance to take a few photos in kit. It was the first show where I wore my new dress, made by yours truly!

Me at the top of Caldicot Castle

Me at the top of Caldicot Castle

Knights ready for battle!

Knights ready for battle!

The first Trust property we visited on the drive home was Croome Park. I have visited Croome in my very first week at Uni, but that was before the Trust had purchased the house. The Trust have now owned the house for about 5 years and since it has always been in private ownership there is extensive conservation work to be done. When we visited the property they were having a huge set of scaffolding being built on one end.

Croome Court

Croome Court

Inside the building there is no collection, most of the furniture that is now in there is from Ikea and any decorative pieces have been represented with drawings on hard board. Interesting enough they do know where many of the pieces that once belonged in the house are now, but it is mostly museums and private collections now, with little hope of bringing it all back together.

A fake over-mantle over a real fireplace

A fake over-mantle over a real fireplace

The interpretation of the rooms has been done in a really interesting way, the information was printed onto fabric that was suspended in a metal frame, echoing the scaffolding around the exterior. Each stand also had a drawing of the people that it was talking about. I have never seen any other trust interpretation done in the same manner.

One of the interpretation stands

One of the interpretation stands

The information in the house presented its entire history, talking about all the different occupants and not just the family that had once called it home, I really liked that. A different aspect of the story was talked about in each room and it was all brought together on the Dining Room table.

The table in the Dining Room, detailing the house's history

The table in the Dining Room

My favorite room was the Dining Room, where the original plaster work on the walls had been painted by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness that once lived at Croome. Apparently there had been a public vote as to whether to leave the paint or to strip it back, and I’m glad it has been left as it is so pretty and colourful!

The decoration in the Dining Room

The decoration in the Dining Room

At the moments there is so much work to be done at Croome, and it is going to need a lot of funding. Only a few rooms are open at the moment, and the stanchions roping them off have these little notes to peak people’s interest in the ongoing project. However, it must be quite liberating to have a blank canvas to work with, and such a rich and interesting collection of stories to draw inspiration from.

The tags on all the ropes

The tags on all the ropes

The visit feels very much like a ‘work in progress’ but I will be really interested to see where it goes.

The September issue of House Matters is out!

Ellen-Scarlett:

Just wanted to share with you all Hardwick’s House Matters bulletin, written by my brilliant colleague Claire!

Originally posted on nthardwick:

Image for website link
House Matters is the monthly newsletter produced by the Conservation Team at Hardwick Hall. We hope you enjoy reading of our latest projects and interesting facts about how we care for the house and collection.

Newsletter – House Matters September 2014

View original