So I was logging on to start writing this post when what popped up on my reader but this post by the National Trust Press Office. Very coincidental as in this post I am going to tell you all about the Wallpaper Training day I attended on Tuesday!
Last week was very varied (not unusual in my job) and I have been thoroughly enjoying all the different activities! Monday we were continuing with the Winter Clean in the Smoking Room. I am loving the Winter Clean so much, I said to everyone the other day once we’re finished we should just start going again! I was working on the left-had side of the Smoking Room, which included some very interesting furniture; a beautiful inlaid wooden desk and two fold-out regency card tables. The Winter Clean allows us to spend time on different objects getting to know them and discover new things. For example to open the card tables you have to swivel the top as you open it and open the legs, a really beautiful mechanism.
The mahogany card tables are made of wood and have green felt on top, I like objects like this that take some time to clean and have a couple of different materials to work on. They are lovely pieces of furniture. The Inlaid desk is absolutely gorgeous, it is made of walnut and has floral motifs inlaid in wood and bone. Furniture like this is fun because often there are objects hiding in the drawers. In one of the desk drawers was a lovely oriental style writing set, with many tiny little pieces and boxes inside boxes. It was so nice to take is out and make it shine again. It is a shame to think it probably won’t be seen again until the next winter clean but I also loved that I got to see it, I felt very special. Some of the drawers and a cupboard in the centre were locked with no keys, make you wonder what could be hiding inside!
Tuesday was a brilliant day because I got to go on another training course!! I’ve done floors and this time I was doing Wallpaper! It may not sound that interesting but it really was. We were taught all about the history of wallpaper, the different types and how the are manufactures. Then we had a tour of the host property’s papers and a session on monitoring wallpaper and how to identify problems. The National Trust has the largest collection of wallpapers still in situ in the world.
Powis does not have that many wallpapers in the rooms open to the public, but we have two amazing hand-painted Chinese wallpapers in the Earl’s Apartments. For some reasons even though they are the Earl’s rooms the Trust owns that wallpaper. One room is pink and features branches, flowers and birds. The other is green and features scenes of village life, and birds too. Both are satin effect paper, as much wallpaper was designed to imitate other materials; textiles, wood, leather. Wallpaper was a cheaper way of creating the same effect, especially after it began to be machine printed and mass-produced in the late 1800’s.
A secondary perk of going on training courses, other than learning so much interesting new information, is getting to go to another Trust property. The wallpaper training was hosted at Sunnycroft, a Victorian house very small in size compared to Powis. Not only did the have a fab collection of wallpapers but also a very interesting collection of objects. The Billiard Room for example, featured a fantastic faux-linen wallpaper, a tiger-skin rug under the Billiard table, and a grenade and small bomb in the fireplace (disarmed of course, I am reassured). The property is so cute, and I loved the staircase and foyer. I will definitely have to go back again when there open because it was just so lovely, and the staff were really friendly too!
Recently I have been given the responsibility of being in charge of the team of volunteer Pat testers; Peter and David. They are lovely gents who come in every year and undertake the mammoth task of testing ‘anything with a plug’ in the castle. I love that I’ve been given the lead on this, and we are flying along with our testing. On our first day we tested every item on the top floor show rooms, a record so I am told. At the end of the day both Peter and David said what a help I had been to Will, which was lovely. So I have learnt to PAT test items, and have been dredging up feint memories of high school science lessons too! Having volunteers to do this for us saves the property so much money! We found an old invoice that said they charged £4.50 for each item tested, so with our first days work we had saved the Trust over £250!!
Friday was so busy! I was meant to be doing marketing work all day but there was so much going on that meant I was running around the castle most of the day. We had someone in taking UV photographs of the Pietre Dure Table. These photos will show us which areas of the table have had repair work undertaken on them. It will be really interesting to see the results. While that was going on the BBC were here to record an interview that will be used to promote the upcoming Baroque Concert were having in the Ballroom in March. The interview was focusing on the Baroque items in our collection. Baroque is a style of architecture and decoration popular in Europe in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Some of the ‘star’ Baroque items in our collection include the State Bedroom, and a cabinet in the Gateway Room that holds a very mysterious item; learn more here.
On top of all this our lovely Costumed Interpretation Volunteers were in to have a meeting about the new tours were going to be giving in March. When We open again fully in March we will be focusing on the 4th Earl of Powis and the restoration he and the architect G. F. Bodley did to the castle in the early 1900’s. The castle we see today is largely result of their work, and the Gardens the work of the 4th Earl’s wife, Violet. Each day at noon we will be offering an introductory tour around the castle focusing on the 4th Earl and Violet’s changes and use of the castle. The volunteers were taking a walk around the castle to test run the tours, so I was accompanying them, opening and closing rooms. The tour seems really interesting, and I learnt even more new information about Powis!
Luckily I have taken this week off to recover from last weeks business, and to prepare for taking more tours the weekend!