Well sort of closed, for a little while . . .
So it is finally the ‘Closed Season’ at Hardwick Hall. Traditionally this would have been the time when the house could be cleaned from top to bottom and then ‘put to bed’. However for us, we’re open again in December, for Christmas and more then doing the Deep Annual Clean we also have a few little projects planned. Projects which include laying new matting in the High Great Chamber and getting trained by the NT textile conservators on how to clean some of the larger textile objects in our collection.
This week we have mostly been getting ready for our up-coming projects, and starting our Deep Clean. We started by emptying the High Great Chamber of everything we could carry, and covering the rest with dust sheets.
This meant we got to build the scaffolding tower not once but twice! I really enjoy building scaffolding because we get to all work together as a team, and we always have a laugh together! Before we covered the scaffold we had to clean the top of it, and it really needed it!
After we had moved all the furniture out then we cleaned to cornice around the top of the room from the scaffold. Actually cleaning the cornice doesn’t take that long, but moving the scaffold what feel like every five minutes takes up the time. Every time the scaffold tower is moved it has to be re-leveled, which on our less than flat floor definitely needs doing! I think I was up and down that scaffolding about 20 times!
After finishing the cornice I moved on top deep cleaning some of the amazing pieces of furniture that live in the State Withdrawing Room. I dusted the Sea Dog Table and the Spice Cabinet, both pieces are believed to have been gifts to Bess from Mary Queen of Scotts.
This is believed to be the case because both pieces are of royal quality. To dust our furniture during the deep clean we use different types of brushes, so on these partially gilded pieces of furniture I used two types of paint brushes. We use hog’s hair paint brushed on the main pieces of carved wood, and a softer pony hair brush on the gilded wood. this is to help preserve the gilt as much as possible.
This also means we get a chance to look inside the objects we are cleaning, like opening all the doors inside the beautiful spice cabinet! I was told that originally it was lined with silk inside, and must have looked stunning!
While I was cleaning some of the wooden furniture the other Chaps were turning their attention to the Farthingale stools from the High Great Chamber. Because of the delicate embroidery on the top of these stools we have to clean them very carefully. We use one of our adjustable suction Museum Vacs and a fine tool, and clean the piece through net to avoid pulling up any fibers.
Sorry for the lack of posting recently, I’ve been having technical problems (ageing laptop is refusing to co-operate any more)!
So pleased you managed to get this post out. How lucky to have a job with so much variety – and that keeps you fit! Whenever I see how cleaning is done in historic houses, it makes me feel a bit guilty about my own efforts here – I’d better go and do some ‘normal’ dusting.
Yes, we have a huge amount of variety, it’s nice to always be doing different and interesting things! (but don’t be fooled, my home gets nowhere near the same treatment as Hardwick!)