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!)