A walk in the Park

Lyme Park to be precise.

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A few weeks ago, when we were having a spell of lovely weather, I took a drive through the peaks and up to Lyme Park to enjoy the sunshine! Now I have to be honest, I’m usually all about the houses when I go Trust visiting but I am so glad I took the time to wonder around the amazing gardens.

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There is a lovely Orangery in the gardens where I sat for a while listening to the fountain, so calming. It has a lovely tiled floor and when I was there it smelled divine thanks to whichever plants they had flowering in there.

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Outside the Orangery the tulips were out in bloom and they looked brilliant! Tulips are my favorite flowers, they are simple yet come in such a variety of lovely bold colours. We have had a lot at Hardwick at the moment and they’re such cheerful flowers.

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I used to visit Lyme occasionally when I was younger and my brother and I used to run through rhododendrons, it was one of our favorite adventures, exploring and finding dens in the trees and bushes. It was nice to tread these paths again, around every corner there was something else to discover.

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The whole park is so scenic, and the house looks great from every angle.

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The house and gardens were built in an Italianate style, and the house has a strange design where there is a courtyard in the middle and the four sides tower above you. To top of the theme there are several Roman gods perched on the roof of the South Front.

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The Italian gardens are beautiful, ever so neat and symmetrical, which really appeals to me. I don’t think I have even been so impressed by gardens as I was by Lyme’s (the beaming sunshine helped a huge amount I’m sure). They were blooming lovely! (I’m so sorry, I couldn’t resist).

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Of course I did also venture in the house. Unfortunately due to a lot of their collection being loaned items you cannot take photos inside the house, which is a shame because there are some really lovely rooms and pieces I wanted to share with you.

The front door stands above a grand double staircase that leads into the Entrance Hall, where when we visited a volunteer was playing the piano. This added a layer of atmosphere to the room, but it was somehow stifled by walking almost straight from the front door into a rope sectioning off most of the room.

©National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

©National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

I think the Drawing Room was my favorite room, ornate but cosy looking furniture, a lovely ceiling and the most amazing stained glass window that would not have looked out-of-place in a cathedral. The library was nice as they had made replica furniture that people could sit on, and read a book if they wanted. These were made only a few years ago and yet already one of the armchair seats has worn through, a good example of why we can’t let everyone touch our collections! The images below shows the Drawing Room not quite how I saw it, but you can see the lovely features it has.

The Drawing Room

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However Lyme’s story did not really come across on my visit, which was a shame because from the snippets I saw it should have been a really emotive and interesting story of how the wars affected the Legh family and their estate. The tag line is ‘Lyme – the end of a golden era’ but there is very little information about this era on the tour of the house, and I didn’t get a sense of the people at all.

Edwardian me

The absolute highlight of the house had to be the Edwardian costume that visitors get the opportunity to dress up in. You can borrow and Edwardian outfit and wander around the house and gardens in it, which was of course right up my street! I really enjoyed my stroll as an Edwardian lady, I felt ever so glamorous. This is a fantastic feature for visitor engagement and well done to the team at Lyme for having such an ambitious idea and seeing it though!

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I think a lot of work must have been done at Lyme in the last few years because the house I saw is very different to the one in the guide-book, which was last revised in 2012. The guide-book only touches on the fall of the estate and again does not tell the story that Lyme are aiming to share. The house was really lovely, I was just frustrated by seeing hints of a story I didn’t then get to find out any more about. I hope this projects is just at the beginning, and that over time this story will be more obvious in the house.

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At the end of the day it was the stunning beauty of the house and park land that made an impression on me, and there is so much beauty to be found at Lyme Park.

Team Trip to Ickworth

The other week us Hardwick Chaps went on a research trip all the way down to Ickworth in Suffolk. It was very exciting to get to go on a team outing, and to tick another Trust property off my list. Warning: there are a lot of pictures bellow, it’s not my fault, there were just too many pretty things!

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In visitor reception

Walking up the drive towards Ickworth I felt very exited. The building itself is amazing, a huge dome sitting in beautiful green gardens. The scale of the house is almost unbelievable, a real project of ambition and wealth!

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Begun in the late 1790s by the 4th Earl of Bristol, a Bishop more concerned with his earthly possessions than his duties in Ireland. He built the house to display his collection of beautiful artifacts from all over the world, in an ‘instructional’ manner. The family maintained this passion for collecting meaning the house today feels more like a gallery than a home, and has some truly fantastic pieces.

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Visitors enter the house through the side by the Orangery, and leave through the front doors. This felt quite unusual but it allowed for an introductory area before heading into the house through the servants quarters. I quite liked the introductory interpretation even though it felt a little bit like I was in a museum.

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The introduction

One of the reasons we were visiting Ickworth was to see there Below Stairs area, where visitors can handle all the objects there. All the drawers can be opened and there are kitchen items and utensils to be discovers inside them. I would love to do something similar at Hardwick, furnish the whole room with non collection items and make it a really hands on area. You can tell a lot of money has been spent on the project and the servants rooms look really good.IMAG0365

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Inside a draw

I particularly liked the Servant’s Hall, where you can try on hats, play games and even play the piano (as demonstrated below by the ever talented Lucie).

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Once you go up the stairs and into the main house you are not allowed to touch anything and the rooms feel more like art galleries, rather than a home. They were all big, light rooms, beautifully decorated and furnished with fantastic items.

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The servants stairs

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The Entrance Hall

There are three magnificent chandeliers on the ground floor, all of which have been cleaned in recent years. The sparkle so beautifully and so Ickworth have set up the library to best be able to view one of these magnificent chandeliers.

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The Dining Room

There are bean bags on the floor which visitors can sit on to look up the chandelier in the center of the room. While the bean bags, and rather funky chairs with them, do not suite the room I really like the idea of being able to sit, relax and enjoy the view. Previously there were green settee and armchairs in the center of the room, matching the curtains. The set up does look a bit odd now but it allows visitors to engage with the space more, rather than just being guided through a roped off area.

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View from the bean bag

The Drawing Room is beautiful, I love the colours, and it contains another stunning chandelier. There is also a lovely chess set with a board featuring images of Roman ruins, appropriate for a house inspired by classical architecture.

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Either side of the main domed area are two long wings. At the end of one of these is the ‘Pompeian Room’ named after its interesting decoration. While I am not a huge fan of the room itself there is a beautiful inlaid marble table. It has all different types of marble and in the middle an image of doves made up of tiny pieces of mosaic. It must have been made by an incredibly skilled craftsman with a lot of patience.

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On the other side of the dome was a room with the second reason we had traveled to Ickworth, lighting! Lighting is an issue in most National Trust properties and Ickworth has just done a project experimenting with ways to light their collection. We are looking to do a similar project at Hardwick. Side note: the room also features some really lovely wallpaper!

Ickworth had lit several of their paintings, all recently moved into the same room, including a portrait of Lady Elizabeth Foster. The name may sound familiar to some as she was the mistress of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, who was married to Georgiana Cavendish, another Hardwick connection. In the portrait Elizabeth is wearing a miniature around her neck, though to be a picture of Georgiana.

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While it is an incredibly difficult task, to light paintings well, the lights at Ickworth got in the way of viewing the paintings. As is often the way with spotlights, from certain angles the light shone on the painting, obscuring the image. it also meant it was very difficult to take photos of the paintings without getting the glare of the lights on them. However saying that I haven’t got a better solution to offer, and it’s very possible we will never find a brilliant way of lighting everything in our collection.

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The main staircase at Ickworth is stunning, and as you go up the stairs you pass shelves and shelves of books, all beautifully bound and lined up. It looks fab!IMAG0431

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Upstairs there are displays of some of the fine things the family had collected on their travels. There was a collection of beautiful, delicate fans and an odd collection of fish I particularly liked. The fish all had different uses, scent bottles etc and both these and the fans were collected by Geraldine, 3rd Marchioness of Bristol, clearly a woman with great tastes.

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After we had walked around the house we went and found a sunny spot and had a picnic in the gardens, which was lovely.

IMAG0445Back in the car park most of the lamp-posts are decorated in a rather unusual fashion. Visitors have stuck their entry stickers all over the lamp-posts. I know these stickers can be a bit of a pain for House Teams, at Hardwick they tend to fall off and stick to the matting. I’m not sure what the staff at Ickworth think of this but I think it looks lovely and colourful, making an otherwise dull and mundane metal pole quite bright and cheerful!

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Oh, and Ickworth also have a brill second-hand book shop! I didn’t spend too much money, and besides it all goes to charity so that makes it ok. All in all it was a lovely day out with my fellow Chaps, and really good fun to go around a Trust property with my team, and discuss it with other ‘insiders’.

Embroidery excitement at East Riddlesden Hall

Last weekend it was my granny’s birthday so as a birthday treat me and mum took her for a day out. We decided to go to East Riddlesden Hall because mum had visited before and really liked it but neither me nor granny had ever been.

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The house is 17th century and was a family home for many years, built and owned by the Murgatroyd family . When it came to the Trust it did not have a collection so most of the items in the hall have come from elsewhere, but there are many really interesting objects there, and loads of beautiful Jacobean embroidery!

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Although located in a very suburban area in Bradford the hall is surrounded by green fields and we were lucky that the weather was really sunny for our visit so every thing looks very picturesque. As you walk up the drive there are lights hanging off iron stands with hearts on, very cute!

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Only part of the hall still stands, with only one wall remaining of the further wing.

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There was a beautiful ornately carved bed in the first bedroom we came too. The volunteer told us that she thinks the decoration on the bed was inspired by a rhyme often told to children. The rhyme goes:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,

Bless the bed that I lie on.

Four corners to my bed,

Four angels round my head;

One to watch and one to pray

And two to bear my soul away.

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There are found angles on the wooden canopy of the bed, looking down on whoever was sleeping there, and four figures stand on the headboard, looking down towards the foot of the bed. Could these figures have been carved to fit the rhyme and keep the occupant sleeping soundly. I really like this idea, it’s a sweet notion.

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Just off the bed was a wash room with a surprising feature, a huge window that wouldn’t be out of place in a church.

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This bed was also very beautiful, if you ignore the rather obvious airbed under the bed cover. The black-work bed spread was made for the Trust in the 1960’s  and the crewel work bed hangings were embroidered in 1986 . These modern textiles follow the theme of embroidery through the ages that inhabits the hall.

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In this same room was this very ornate brass clock. It is in my ‘Treasures from the National Trust’ book ans that tells me it was made in 1685 by clockmaker Thomas Dyde.

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The landing room was used as a place the family would sit together after dinner and drink and talk. I love the idea of a family sitting around together in this space, talking until late in the night and then heading off to their rooms as they get tired. I imagine it to be like us at re-enactment, sitting round the fire and then heading to our tents surrounding the circle.

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There was a lot of the embroidery that I liked but these were some of my favorite pieces. I love the dress on this lady.

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This stunning little box, featured in ‘Treasures from the National Trust’ dates from the late 1600’s. The craftsmanship is outstanding! I also liked it’s personal display case, keeping the delicate raised work dust free whilst still allowing visitors to appreciate it’s beauty.

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In the green bedroom was spotted this rather nifty little embroidery device. It is a 19th century bobbin stand and I found myself thinking that I would quite like one of these myself!

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There were also some very ornate plaster ceilings, and I do love a pretty ceiling. Running throughout the hall was a trail to discover the origins of common phrases. In the Dining Room, where there was a very nice plaster ceiling I learnt one that really tickled me.

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The plaster for ceilings was originally mixed with beer, so on a hot day when the workers were thirsty there would have been a large supply of beer available to them. It is said you can see the bits of ceiling done in the morning and those done at the end of the day, as the designs had a tendency to get wobblier as they day went on, due to the beer. This is where the term ‘getting plastered’ comes from!

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In the other room with a very nice plaster ceiling was also a replica trundled bed made by NT furniture conservators Tankerdale that visitors are allowed to try. Of course I had to have a go, and found it quite comfy really, better that the hiking air beds we used to use camping anyway!

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Even though not all the collection is not hereditary to the hall the rooms felt really cosy, and you could imagine them having been lived in. The hall still feels like a family’s home, a very beautiful home for a very lucky family!

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After looking round the hall we had a walk in the gardens. I just could not get over how lovely the weather was, the sun was really shining and the sky so blue!

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The room cards while basic looking had some very interesting information on them, particularly the objects focused ones. Shame the story didn’t touch on the rather scandalous elements of the families history as I think that might have made for very interesting reading. However I understand it’s not suitable for all pallets especially as it was salacious enough to make the River Aire change course to avoid the family!

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It was an absolutely lovely day out, the staff were really friendly and on our was out we even met the mouse of the manor! I would very much recommend a visit to this charming family home, and hopefully you will get the same amazing weather we did!

Going Underground!

Some days it feels like I just can’t get away from work! The other week I went to Poole’s cavern with a friend and found out that it has some unexpected links with Hardwick Hall.

I have always loved exploring caves and I really enjoyed attempting my caving badge with scouts (until the abseiling down a waterfall in the dark that is *shivers*).

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Poole’s Cavern was a much more sedate exploration of a cave complex, no harness or helmet needed! The caves were beautifully lit and the tour guide was very interesting, coping well with a large tour full of children but still fitting in lots of fascinating facts and answering all our questions. He even took the time to tell us more about the cavern on the way back.

The cavern have had some famous visitors in its history, including Mary Queen of Scotts who visited the cave in 1582 while she was under the ‘care’ of the Earl of Shrewsbury. While she was visiting Mary embraced one of the natural pillars of the cave and kissed it, claiming who ever kissed it would have good luck. However given how things ended up for her I opted not to try it!

Mary's Pillar

Mary’s Pillar

Prior to it being opened as a show cave intrepid explorers would have to crawl through a hole to get into the cavern. However in 1853 the owner decided to open the cavern to the public, so created a new entrance that was slightly more accessible, by blowing it up with dynamite!

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This owner was the 6th Duke of Devonshire, also known for cutting up tapestries and turning beds into throne canopies at Hardwick Hall! For many years the cavern was lit with gas lamps, which I think is a completely mad idea but never lead to any dramatic incidents, amazingly.

The biggest stalagtight in the cavern is known as the flitch of bacon. Apparently it used to look more pig like before explorers discovered the big sparkly rock hanging from the ceiling and snapped the end off! Honestly it could make you cry.

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The Flitch of Bacon

Further into the cavern there are stalagmites nick named poached eggs, for obvious reasons. There are some stalagmites that are now dead, because people have been touching them. The oils on people’s hands have coated the top of the stalagmite and will prevent it from growing any further. They also turn black, a perfect example of how damaging touching can be, not only in historic houses.

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The Poached Eggs

At the end of the cavern there was a beautiful sparkly rock. It was very interesting and the guide pointed out different parts that looked like different animals, including a swan and a dog. I couldn’t capture the stunning sparkles on my camera so you will have to go in person to truly appreciate how beautiful it is.

Sparkly Rock

Sparkly Rock

After our trip underground we had a wander around Buxton and found a craft fair in the park. I bought a beautiful frog pin cushion, combining two of my favorite things, frogs and sewing! I also had some very good luck in the charity shops too, a very successful day out all round!

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My frog!

My frog!

A lovely birthday in Leeds

It was my birthday at the end of March and what better way to spend my birthday than at one of my favorite ever museums, Leeds Royal Armouries!

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That banner is made of chainmail btw!

Leeds Armouries has always been one of my favorite places to spend the day; family days out, watching the joust with cousins, to getting the £1 summer holidays bus deal from Huddersfield, spending hours there with so many of my favorite people. I even used the museum as a case study in one of the essays I wrote while I was at uni.

Pretty amour

Pretty amour

Even though I have been many times before I always managed to spot something new that I had never noticed. And there are so many fascinating and pretty things there, I don’t think I could ever get bored.

The famous Hall of Steel

The famous Hall of Steel

It has been a few years since I last visited so I was really excited to go back, especially as my good friend has just started working there too. We did nearly get a little lost because in the intervening years the area around the Armouries has sprung up, it’s almost unrecognisable but thanks to those trusty brown signs we found our way.

My very lovely little brother indulged me all day so we spent hours in the Armouries, with a little pizza break halfway through at the convenient Pizza Express right on the doorstep! I got to re-visit the elephant armour I have always loved, that originally came from Powis Castle!

Elephant!

Elephant!

I love the interactives in the War Gallery, including holding swords, pulling bows and a quiz on different types of weaponry (which me & Jake aced!). Behind one of these interactives is also a video that I love to watch, a man in a full suite of armour doing a cartwheel!! The video is to prove that it can be done but I just keep imagining my friends who own similar get ups attempting it and the outcome probably not being quite the same. I can tell you one thing, I wouldn’t even attempt it for fear of seriously injuring myself and whoever I landed on top of!

Jake playing with one of the interactives

Jake playing with one of the interactives

So much of the collection at the Armouries is not only functional but also really beautiful. I love that something made for such a practical and often not very friendly purposes is also an object of beauty.

More pretty armour

More pretty armour

A slightly random little detail I liked where the stands for the guns in the upper section of the war gallery. The display focuses on WW1 and showcases the evolution of weaponry throughout the conflict, very interesting. The stands for the guns are metal hands, showing how the items would have been held, a really clever idea.

The handy stands

The handy stands

Though the collection at the Armouries obviously has a large part to do with war and violence the Armouries take an admirable stance on educating about the importance of peace, with several displays talking about work being done to end war and violence. I find the most shocking and interesting gallery is their ‘Self Defense’ gallery where they include a display of weapons handed over during a weapons amnesty in Leeds. It is a very emotive display and I thinks it sends a really powerful and important message.

More pretty things

More pretty things

The self defense gallery shows items used for personal protection throughout the ages, including this little piece that I have always liked for just how over the top it is. It is an Apache Revolver and combines a gun, knuckle duster and knife. Talk about over kill!

Ouch!

Ouch!

We also discovered on our visit that there was some conservation work happening live! I was very excited about this and dragged Jake off to see it.To tie in with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo the Armouries are cleaning and restoring the model scene of the battle. There is a post about the work on the Royal Armouries Blog with some fantastic photos of the detail of the pieces!

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It looks like a project that you could really get stuck into, a long haul but very rewarding in the end I’m sure. The whole thing is being cleaned but some of the lead figures have corroded. Where this has happened limbs might be missing so conservators are remodeling pieces and restoring the figures. It sounds like very delicate work on a tiny scale! Conservator Cym was kind enough to pose for a photo for me with the sections she is currently working on. Each section is about one meter squared in size and there are ten in total. Keep up the good work guys and thanks for sharing!

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The gallery that often comes closest to being my absolute favorite (it’s a very tight competition) is the Oriental gallery, for the amazing beauty and craft in so many of the objects. This gallery also has some really fascinating videos to watch, so we spent a lot of time in here. I just love the attention to detail that has gone into making these objects so ornate.

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Beautiful stirrups

This coat of plates also features some amazing embroidery. It is an 18th Century Chinese Cavalryman’s Brigandine, pretty and practical.

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And there are sparkles on these handles encrusted with mother of pearl. Beautiful!

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I already can’t wait for my next visit, to see what changes between now and then and discover something else I’ve never spotted before. Quite jealous I can’t be there for the amazing Easter joust this weekend but I’ve been working. Well . . . there is always next year! All in all an awesome way to spend my birthday!

More cleaning!

For the last few weeks we have been settling back into the open season, it’s surprising how much you forget when routines change! Now we are open and back in the swing of things we are cracking on with the Deep Clean.

Whilst Hardwick was closed we managed to get most of the Top Floor deep cleaned. It is really important that we do rooms like the Long Gallery and High Great Chamber while we are closed as we need to use scaffold to reach all areas, and we can’t use this sort of equipment when visitors are in. We also got most of the Ground Floor cleaned as we needed to before we could install the interpretation for this years exhibition prior to opening.

The scaffold tower in the High Great Chamber

The scaffold tower in the High Great Chamber

The only rooms we did not clean on the Top Floor while we were closed were Mary Queen of Scotts Room and the Blue Bedroom. We deliberately left these as they are smaller rooms we can clean while we are open. I really enjoy working when we are open, so we can talk to the public about how we care for Hardwick’s collection. My job would hold so much less appeal if I couldn’t share my work the way we do.

In The Blue Bedroom

In The Blue Bedroom

People are always so interested and amazed as the amount of work that actually goes into looking after historic properties, and I think it’s really important we do tell people! It gives visitors an opportunity to see what their membership fees do, where the money for that trip to the gift shop goes, or what buying that cheeky slice of cake means to us ( as if people really need another excuse to buy cake!). That is why for the next two months we will be focusing on cleaning the Middle Floor in front of our visitors!

I always seem to notice something new when deep cleaning a room, even though now this is my third time cleaning these rooms! Like these feet peeking out from underneath the Blue Bed!

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It was the turn of the Top Floor over-mantles for a Deep Clean this time round, so I cleaned the alabaster over-mantle in the Blue Bedroom by dusting it with a hogs hair paint brush. It depicts the wedding of Tobias and Sarah from the biblical story of Tobit, as story Bess must have been fond of because we also have a table carpet telling the tale.

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Whilst I was cleaning it I noticed this masons mark hiding right at the top. I love spotting these marks and it made me think about the person who created this amazing piece of art so many years ago. I wonder what they would think if they could see us still taking care of it today.

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I also got to have a close look at this lovely leather studded chest in the Blue Bedroom. I have a soft spot for pretty boxes and would love to have this in my house (if there were room!). The crowns once had blue silk in the spaces, such wonderful attention to detail.

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Something most visitors do not get to see is the amazing painted detail on the black wicker chairs in the Mary Queen of Scotts Room. They are covered in painted flowers and gilded decoration. This means they are very delicate and we have to take great care not to damage the detail any more than time already has done. We gently brush the dust off with our softest brushes, with bristles made from pony hair.

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Now we’ve finished the Top Floor we are racing through the Middle Floor so if you are visiting in the next few weeks you might get a chance to see us in action!

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On the Middle Floor

Textile excitement at Eyam Hall

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This week I was drafted in to help cleaning some of the more delicate textiles at Eyam Hall. Eyam is a beautiful house and gardens in the Peaks that the Trust have taken guardianship of nearly two years ago. As they are still quite a small team and in our property portfolio staff from Hardwick offer support in a variety of ways, including looking after some of the more fragile items in the collection.

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I last visited Eyam on a beautifully sunny day so being there on a very misty day while there was snow on the ground gave the Hall a different feel. Very mysterious and atmospheric. It was so cold even the pond was still frozen!

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While we where there we cleaned the amazing Crewel Work bedspread that Eyam have in the Oak Bedroom. The bedspread was apparently made for Elizabeth Wright around the time that Eyam Hall was being built in the 1680’s. It features amazing colours and wonderful images of exotic birds, beautiful flowers and highly decorated leaves that I just loved!

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I was in my element, getting to see this wonderful embroidered work up close. Thinking about skill and hours that must have gone into making this bedspread, and the hangings to match, make me so please we can care for this amazing piece so people can continue to admire it for years to come. And the carved wood of the bed frame complements the elaborate embroidery nicely.

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We also took a look at the Tapestry Room, taking a sample of the dust on the tapestry nearest the door to see how the increase in visitor numbers has been affecting it. Since it is a small room even if they have less visitors than Hardwick to dust will build up faster as there is less room for it to disperse. Since there will be many more visitors now the Trust are running Eyam it is something we need to monitor closely. The tapestry room is lovely, it makes me feel very at home!

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With Eyam Hall being a family home for many, many generations the collection rather eclectic with some really interesting objects. Some of my favorites included this stuffed moose, and these steps in the library, which double as a chair!

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The House has real character, we got to sneak up to the top floor and see some of the rooms not open to the public, and there were these curious windows. There are several different types of windows throughout the building, which I thought was rather unusual.

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I also love the detailing around the house, like the carved finials up the stair case, with little hearts in the center.

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As another perk of being a staff member we got a sneak peek into the a little building in the garden, which will be opening to the public at weekends. The use of this building, situated in the garden, has been debated.

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Until recently it was known as the Gardener’s cottage but it has been discovered that is was originally used as a Banqueting House, where dessert would have been eaten after a meal. Although it is only a little room, it is full of character and atmosphere, and curious items.

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I really enjoyed my day at Eyam, and we have planned to go back and do some more work there soon. I love my work, and it is really nice to have a little day out and get a chance to do what I love in another beautiful location!

Random January

We have been working really hard to get ahead on the Deep Clean so we have plenty of time to install our exciting theme for this year! And thanks to our brilliant team we are doing really well, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t still had time to appreciate the beauty of the objects in the collection we care for.

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There are so many instances when I just stop what I am doing, distracted by something I have never noticed before or a view that I want to try to take a photo of, like the chair back above. It is one of the most modern fabric in the Long Gallery but I just thought it looked so interesting looking down the back of the chair, and angle we don’t usually see when we’re open.

I love noticing this that we can’t usually see, like going up the ladder to dust the top of a tall cabinet. Once we had removed the dust we could see that it has a beautifully inlaid design.

The top of one of the cabinets in the State Withdrawing Room.

The top of one of the cabinets in the State Withdrawing Room.

Another great thing about the Deep Clean is getting to look inside the furniture we clean. We found this elaborate design on the underside of the lid of a chest in the Needlework passage.

The inside lid of one of Hardwick's chest.

The inside lid of one of Hardwick’s chest.

Whilst we were cleaning the same area I spent a bit of time looking at the magnificent wine coolers that sit on the window sills in the passage. They often get a lot of comments from out visitors are they are quite unusual.

One of our 2 German wine coolers

One of our two German wine coolers.

They are ceramic pieces with designs that show people drinking and being merry, with gilded are detail over the scenes.

These figures appear to be having a jolly time

These figures appear to be having a jolly time.

It was only when I was dusting them that I realised what the figures on top of the lid were actually doing – they’re pressing grapes! The lid does remind me a little of the Schoner Brunnen, Beautiful Fountain, that I saw on my travels in Nuremburg.

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On Wednesday last week it was museum selfie day and in between snow chaos and running around getting things done I manages to snap a quick pic with Arbella, the lady who will be the center of this years theme! The new interpretation has been arriving and key players have been moving around, it is all shaping up for opening in just over a week. While we have still got a HUGE amount to do I am so excited by what is already in place and can’t wait to see the finished product!

My museum selfie

My museum selfie

Although I imagine after a week of installing interpretation, uncovering everything we’ve deep cleaned, briefing volunteers and doing the final dust by the time we are ready to open we will all be fit to drop! What we are doing this year is quite different to anything that has been done at Hardwick before so we are all anxious that it goes well, but I have a great belief in the minds behind the plan, and the muscles putting it in place. I’m sure it is going to be fab!

I got to do something else very exciting, and very unusual this week. I was invited back to my university, The University of Worcester, to talk to the current Archaeology students about how I got my job in the heritage industry! I was so pleased to be asked, it is a huge compliment for your lecturers to look at you as an example of someone who has gone on to be successful. There were several of us Worcester graduates there, which made it a really nice little reunion and I got a chance to catch up with my lecturers as well.

Beautiful Worcester.

Beautiful Worcester.

For the most part we all had similar advice to give the students; work hard, volunteer and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, seizing opportunities that come your way, or creating your own! If you want to know a little bit more about how I got to where I am today I wrote a blog post about it a while back: link here. Hopefully I will be able to go back next year and for many years after, talking about my career journey, wherever it takes me!

Christmas Highlights!

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My Christmas was very busy this year, full of all the things I love; work, sweet things, crafts, family, friends and glitter! Here are a few highlights from my festive season! This year we spent even longer getting Hardwick Hall … Continue reading