This bank holiday I spent in a fairly usual manner for me, doing historic-y things in a historic setting, however there was a slight twist. On Sunday the Sisters of Mercia (a section of my re-enactment group Swords of Mercia … Continue reading
After a loooong period of being very busy and down a few chaps we are currently slightly less so, on both counts, so we have been taking this opportunity to crack on with our annual deep clean! We had left off in the Dining Room and we are now in the Drawing Room!
I love getting into the deep clean aw we get to take our time with each objects, to really look at them properly and notice new things about them, that many people will not notice when visiting. We also get to see what a huge different the work we do makes, especially when we are cleaning certain textiles and see what they look like underneath the dust!
I’ve talked about the problems we have with dust on textiles versus how often we can safely clean them, and briefly mentioned that we are experimenting with using volie covers on some of the objects. The stools on the Entrance Hall Gallery are some of the object we are doing this on. Ideally putting voile on the stools means we can clean the volie more frequently than we could clean the textile. One of the stools does not have a cover for comparison, and the difference was clean when we removed the covers from the other ones, the were much less dust.
These beautiful stools are Elizabethan embroidery on red velvet, featuring a range of cute and interesting creature great and small. I think the covers are a good idea, as even though they change the look of the objects you can still see the detail, and it is much better for the object. These stools are a particular concern as people cross the Gallery twice, and this embroidery is very delicate.
Claire was tasked with climbing up our big ladder and in between the massive antlers of our fossilized Irish Elk skull, a tricky fella to clean but good fun. While she did that I cleaned the glass lanterns that hang on the Gallery, and notices how beautiful these seemingly plain objects actually are up close!
Moving into the Drawing Room, what people often say is our ‘homeliest’ room, meant lots more textiles to clean. Some of the textiles are more mundane, like the chairs and the sofas, and others are beautiful examples of Duchess Evelyn’s embroidery. Duchess Evelyn was the last family member to live at Hardwick, choosing it as her dower house after the death of her husband the 9th Duke of Devonshire. She lived there until her death in the early 1960’s.
One of the most noticeable changes after we had finished cleaning it was actually the plain red sofa in the Drawing Room, which had a very odd pattern on it when we removed the cushions, but looked bright and spiffy when we had finished!
We shall be carrying on our deep clean in earnest, around all the other exciting things we’ve got coming up. Our tasks over the coming weeks will include, but are by no means limited to, building scaffolding, moving paintings, going on training courses, planning events, daily dusting, bit of vacuuming, and maybe we’ll even find time for a cup of tea and slice of cake (or two!)
I have been quite busy over the last few weeks traveling the country doing a couple of different shows with my re-enactment group, but now there is only one show left and then the season is over!
A couple of weekends ago several members from our group, including myself, went to the biggest medieval re-enactment event of the season, the Battle of Tewksbury! Any one who has been watching the White Queen might recognise the name as this was the battle where Prince Edward and Margaret of Anjou were defeated.
I always love this show as it is a chance to see a lot of my friends, the battle is always brilliant and there is a huge market too! This years was just like the Tewksburys I remember from when I was younger as well – it was scorching hot!
I am so proud of our lads for getting kitted up in full plate and going on to the battlefield! I was uncomfortably hot in just my linen peasants dress so I have no idea how they did it, but I am so pleased they did. This years battle was awesome and our lads fought really well!
I love being able to go on the field as a water-bearer, not only are we really needed on weekends such as this but then we get a close up view of all the action, It’s very exciting!
As part of the Tewksbury Medieval Festival there is also a slightly tongue-in-cheek re-enactment of the beheading of the Lancasterian leaders at the Abbey. This always draws a huge crowd and is actually quite funny, as after each leader is beheaded their ‘head’ is then placed on the spikes of the fence. How is this funny you ask? Well the ‘heads’ are made by local school children and don’t useually look that much like the Lancasterian leaders. And this year we even had a barbie and George.W.Bush.
Tewksbury is always loads of fun, even when it feels like it’s taking place in an oven! The next show we did, last weekend, was very different as it was our personal group show, so it was up to us to put on the entertainment, not just to benefit. This show we did at the beautiful ruined castle of Ashby De La Zouche.
I love the fact that we get to go to these amazing places and put on shows for the public. We love doing this, and love the wonderful feedback we get from the families that come and see us, and seem to really enjoy it! Personally I love our show, it still makes me laugh every time I see it, and there is always some new ad-lib being thrown in by our very funny guys. It is so rewarding to get nice feedback because I know how passionate we all are and how much work has gone into this show.
This weekend we got over 1200 visitors, which was brilliant. We were lucky to have good weather most of both days, and thankfully not quite as hot as tewks! But Saturday evening there was thunder and lightening and torrential rain!! It was quite an experience, when the storm started we were all huddling under our little awning watching the flashes of lightening in the ruins, and it was very atmospheric. However it quickly became very wet so we retreated to some of our group members nice big tent! Thanks for the shelter guys, much appreciated. Even sitting listening to the heavy rain we still have a real laugh, and sharing this hobby with this group of people makes it such an enjoyable way to spend my time!
Luckily there is one show left, and then I’m going to be back to fight training as well, and have a huge list of projects to get on with before next season so I shall be kept entertained! Work is also busy busy busy as always. With me and Claire being the only House Staff on the ground for the last few weeks we have effectively been doing 2 peoples jobs each! Lots of exciting things happening soon (as always) at Hardwick to keep me occupied so time will fly by until re-enactment season starts again next year!