The Deep Cleaning continues

Cleaning the Overmantle

After a slight hiatus over the last couple of weeks to send Gideon on his way we have jumped right back in to our Deep Cleaning. We are getting along with it so well I couldn’t be more pleased, and … Continue reading

Goodbye Gideon

Or should I say ‘see you later’! We have just sent the next one of our Gideon tapestries away from conversation!

The latest Gideon we took down

The latest Gideon we took down

The Gideon tapestries projects has been on-going for years and I was lucky enough to help re-hang the last two Gideons that returned from conservation in May. Even though this was the first time I had taken down a Gideon the team are more than well-practiced so we were in safe hands.

The damage to the tapestry

The damage to the tapestry

The tapestry we were taking down this time is in the worst repair of the three that remain to be conserved, which is why we decided it needed to be the next to go. The closer we looked at the tapestry, the worse the damage is!

Bess' patch peeling to reveal  the original shield underneath

Bess’ patch peeling to reveal the original shield underneath

As this tapestry is one of the three largest in the property we had to re-think about how to approach handling such a massive weight. It was decided to help us this time round fixed scaffolding would be hired to cope with the weight of the tapestry, which was going to be a new experience for us (It was odd climbing a different scaffold that was so sturdy it barely moved at all!).

The fixed scaffold

The fixed scaffold tower

The first thing the Textile Conservators did we remove the bottom border of the tapestry. All the tapestries are woven in three pieces, with the top and bottom borders being separate. The bottom border is in the worst repair, having taken most of the wear and tear and the most dirt. Taking off the bottom border makes it easier to roll the tapestry later, and makes it a little bit lighter.

Removing the lower border

Removing the lower border

The tapestry had to be rolled onto a drain pipe so our carpenters built a brilliant little track for us. We had a trolley that the drain pipe stood upright on and this ran along the wooden track set at the base of the wall. This partnered with the fixed scaffold with three levels on made rolling the tapestry easier for us.

Our little trolley

Our little trolley

There were three levels to our scaffold, we had four people on each helping roll and another four or so at the bottom pushing the trolley and rolling the very bottom of the tapestry onto the drain pipe. It true when they say ‘many hands make light work’!

Starting to roll the tapestry

Starting to roll the tapestry

Starting at the side nearest the fireplace velcro was tacked to the lining of the tapestry and this was fixed to the velcro on the drain pipe. We then ran the trolley along the track, rolling the Gideon smoothly onto the pipe as we went. Once it we rolled on to the drain pipe the whole thing had to be lowered.

Rolling, rolling . . .

Rolling, rolling . . .

Thanks to the ingenious design of the trolley the pipe was on a hinged piece to make lowering it much easier. Two straps were tied around the roll and used to slowly lover the roll down to the ground. This had to be done very carefully to make sure we did not squash anyone standing below waiting to receive! A good test of my knot tying ability and it certainly flexed our muscles too.

Coming down

Coming down

The planning that has gone into this event, based on the previous tapestry removals, made the whole process very smooth and quite quick, once we started it took us about half an hour to roll and lower the tapestry. Then the textile conservators took the newest backing fabric off in the Long Gallery, and found an awful lot of detritus behind it!

Removing the backing fabric from the tapestry

Removing the backing fabric from the tapestry

After they had finished they rolled the tapestry onto a second drain pipe (without velcro on), padding it with wadding and acid free tissue as they rolled it. This mean the tapestry was properly protected and ready for transport the next day. It’s first stop will be the Textile Studios at Blickling Hall, where it will be made ready for being washed.

The tapestry in the Long Gallery

The tapestry in the Long Gallery

Our Gideon tapestries are sent to Belgium to be washed, not far from Oudenaarde where they were originally woven. They are sent here because it is the only workshop with tanks large enough to wash our tapestries flat. They tell us we have the dirtiest tapestries in Europe! (But to be fair they haven’t been washed in over 400 years!).

The tacks that were keeping the tapestry up

The tacks that were keeping the tapestry up

After washing the tapestry will be sent back to the Blickling Studio where the Textile Conservators will work on it, and then it will be returned to Hardwick in about 2 and a half years time! It will be absolutely amazing to see the whole set after they have all been conserved , but that is still several years away!

Chap photo in front of the Gideon

Our Chap photo in front of the Gideon

Symthson’s Year

2014 marks the 400th anniversary of Robert Smythson’s death, the architect who Bess of Hardwick commissioned to design her grand new home, Hardwick New Hall. Bess wanted her new home to be a celebration of all she had accomplished in her life, and this was also very symbolic in its placement right next to the house where she was born. This meant the it had to be the biggest, the best, a real show stopper that would make people gaze in awe as they pulled up to visit, somewhere that would be instantly recognisable and that people would remember long after they had visited for its grandeur and magnificence.

Harwick Hall

Harwick Hall

Smythson had started as a stone mason, working on properties such as Longleat, before graduating to architect. Hardwick was not the first property he designed, but bore his signature symmetrical lines, and fondness of windows.

When it was designed Hardwick Hall was a really innovative design, at the cutting edge of modern architecture. When many people think of ‘modern architecture’ they think of vast amounts glass as being one of its main features, I know I do. Strange to think that Hardwick too was know for its glass when it was the epitome of modern architecture 400 years ago. We’ve obviously not changed that much in all this time!

Image from: http://www.gardenvisit.com/garden/wollaton_hall_garden

Wollaton Hall

Smythson was not only responsible for drawing the plans of Hardwick Hall but for several other stately homes as well. His other properties include Wollaton Hall (one time Wayne Manor) as well as Burton Agnes Hall. Each property has a very unique feel but you can see some similar stylistic elements that show the link between the three. As with most prominent architects Smythson’s style lived on after his career as he helped set a trend for symmetry and inspired other architects.

Burton Agnes Hall

Burton Agnes Hall

To celebrate Smythson’s year we have written a new tour and set up two new trails highlighting some of the important and interesting architectural elements of Hardwick Hall. The indoor trail comprises of a set of columns placed around the hall highlighting where you can see the different architectural decisions Smythson and Bess made. There is also a new exhibition in the Duke’s Room highlighting some of the most innovative architecture since Hardwick was built until the modern day.

The new exhibition

The new exhibition

The outdoor trail offers visitors a chance to look at the Hall’s exterior from different angles, seeing it in a new light. Personally I know it looks amazing from every angle (ok, so I may be biased) and I think its such a good idea to draw peoples eye to these different architectural elements that one might not notice without a bit of guidance. In front of the Hall we also have our ‘pop-up’ Masons shop, where on certain days visitors can try their hand at being a Hardwick Mason.

Visitors have a go at being a Mason

Visitors have a go at being a Mason

We are hoping having a slightly different focus this year will give returning visitors a new experience here, as well as encourage visitors who have never been before by talking about a different part of Hardwick’s history. I have found it really interesting already, as architecture is something I know very little about, so I’ve enjoyed expanding my knowledge of Hardwick even more, into a rather unknown area for me.

We are very lucky to have our own team of Masons

We are very lucky to have our own team of Masons

Although Smythson drew the plans for the house he did not oversee the building project, so our new tour of the Hall tells the stories of some of the masons and crafts men that where involved in building Hardwick.

A Mason's mark outside the Hall

A Mason’s mark outside the Hall

Evidence of the people that built Hardwick can be seen all around the Hall in the extensive collection of masons marks visible on most stones in the walls. Getting to see Hardwick from all the different vantage points that I do I have always made an effort to take photos of the different Mason’s marks that I see. Some of the ones I find, like when we are up the scaffolding, of moving furniture, may seldom get a chance to be photographed so I have been trying to build as complete a collection as I can. Several of our volunteers are interested in Masons marks also, and we are hoping to one day to be able to match the masons marks with the name of the person behind them.

One of many marks inside the Hall

One of many marks inside the Hall

It is obvious why Hardwick was so dear to Bess, it is such a impressive house! She designed it to make an impact and it definitely does that. I can’t count the amount of times I have stopped on my way in or out just to admire the building, and the way it changes if the different seasons but always looks majestic and beautiful. Visitors are always impressed by the house, and it is so recognisable to so many, sitting proudly on top of its hill. I hope Smythson would have been very please to be remembered in such a way 400 years after his death, and with such a beautiful legacy! I know I can only hope to have such an impact on the world!

The Great Yorkshire Sewing Bee

Ellen-Scarlett:

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, I’ve just been rather busy! Anyway I wanted to share with you a post from my mum’s blog about what we got up to the other weekend. I can’t wait for the re-enactment season to begin again so it was great to start getting ready for it, and getting excited!

Originally posted on Stitchesoftime's Weblog:

Hello everyone

I am really enjoying watching the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC 2 – would love to live in that workshop, all that fabric and buttons and beads and cottons! I know I have a lovely craft room but that would be heaven.

Ellie, Kerry and I had our own little sewing bee last weekend and we had a lovely time cutting out new dresses for them so I thought I would show you a few pics to document the process.

We have a fairly untraditional style of garment making which mainly relies on cutting round existing garments to make new ones and adapting the pattern as we go along.

We do sometimes use bits of existing patterns for shaping such as bodices etc but mostly it is a case of cut, pin, try on and alter until it all fits.

I have the following pattern which is…

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And we’re open!!

The Entrance Hall - Ready for visitors!

We have opened our doors to the public again, but it doesn’t seem very long since we closed after Christmas! However, getting the house ready for the public made me realise just how much our team has achieves over since … Continue reading

A New Year full of Old Objects

Beautiful embroidered detail on the Canopy

As soon as we were back at work we were straight back into our Deep Clean, finishing the top floor and moving into the Entrance Hall. However we’re not just thinking about the closed season, we have already begun preparing … Continue reading

Win a chance to look round our studio

Ellen-Scarlett:

Thought this may have be of interest to some of you. As part of the National Trust’ effort to raise funds for conservation of textiles, including several of Hardwick’s own, you can win a chance to get a tour of Blickling Textile Conservation Studio!

Best of luck!

Originally posted on Textile Conservation Studio:

The National Trust has launched an appeal to raise money for textile conservation projects

Along with this appeal is the chance to win a tour around our conservation studio in a prize draw.

ntpl_166315[1]Please take a look at the National Trust’s donations page for more information

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/get-involved/donate/current-appeals/textiles-appeal/

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