I couldn’t decide what to call this post so my mum said; ‘well what have you been doing?’ and I replied ‘what haven’t I been doing!’ so there you go! Apologies again for the gap between posts, I am still without internet in my new place (very frustrating!) so I’m at mum’s again stealing her internet.
I have been very busy at work, learning the ropes and settling in my new place ad have already done so many amazing things at Hardwick! There are so many differences between Powis and Hardwick, but also a lot of similarities. Monday and Tuesdays are closed days, something that didn’t happen at Powis until we got to 2013. Mondays are spent doing the weekly clean, we each take a floor and vacuum and dust it, and the we are responsible for this floor for the rest of the week. Tuesdays are spent doing the Winter Clean, which I love doing! We will also be doing projects on closed days over the coming months, which I am so excited about.
So far me and Claire have already got to clean both the bed in the Blue Bedroom and the bed in the Mary Queen of Scotts room. I can’t believe I have already got up close and personal with these amazing textiles! To clean textiles we use a museum vac and place an ironing cloth over the textile. we then use a very low suction, and this combined with the ironing cloth ensures that we remove the dust from the surface, but that we are not pulling any of the fibers out. To do the beds we used two different attachments, one flat hoover head for the large areas and one small nozzle to go over the embroidery. It was a very satisfying job seeing the difference after taking the dust off, it was especially bad on the flat areas and on the creases and folds in the back velvet of the Mary Queen of Scotts bed. Here are some photos of the lovely embroidery taken by my colleague Claire.
There are some afternoons when I will be able to work on my own projects, and get some of the backlog of work that has built up while the team have been short-staffed, such as cleaning a large amount of linen found in a mouldy cupboard a few months ago. This seemed like a huge task but with more team members and a few quiet afternoons we blitzed the work! It feels really nice to be able to help out getting tasks like this ticked off the list, as the one thing I have realised is that there is always work to be done! Brilliant for me as I get to try my hand at loads of new things. Such as spending the other afternoon cataloguing books that had been moved to the attics, with some very interesting and intriguing titles. Some of these were first edition novels, and books of psalms and hymns, as well journals about agriculture and horticulture. Talking with a colleague while doing this made me again take a step back and realise just how lucky I am, to work where I do, and have done!
We continued our Winter Clean in the Chapel, Paved Room and the Cut Velvet Dressing Room. The Paved Room has some fantastic plaster work around the walls, so I spent the day up the ladder dusting the plaster. It is detailed with gold paint and so I cleaned it by dusting it with a pony hair brush into one of our backpack hoovers. Here are some photos of the detail on the walls.
I love discovering new things so I got very excited when I was cleaning in the Cut Velvet Dressing Room and discovered a secret about the side table, it is really a drinks cabinet! Unfortunately no longer stocked with alcohol it instead had two cigarette tins in and a book. I am looking forward to learning many more secrets about Hardwick’s amazing collection.
Opening just last week was a new exhibition called ‘Virtue and Vice’, inspired by the Virtue and Vice tapestries hanging in the Entrance Hall and on the Chapel Landing. The theme of the exhibition looks at how religion not only shaped people’s lives but also shaped the way the dressed their homes. There is an exhibition in Bess’ Bedroom and there are display boards placed around the Hall where the theme has been used in the furnishings and decoration. I am looking forward to studying the information over the next couple of weeks, while the exhibition is on display. Find out more about the exhibition on the National Trust Website.
Well I hope to have my internet up and running soon so I can keep you informed with what I’m up to at Hardwick, but untill then follow our new Twitter account; @NTChaps. Members of the Hardwick Hall House team will be taking it in turn to tweet about what we are doing, and I promise pretty photos too!