We have opened our doors to the public again, but it doesn’t seem very long since we closed after Christmas! However, getting the house ready for the public made me realise just how much our team has achieves over since we closed for the season in November.
Not only have we now Deep Cleaned the entire top floor and most of the ground floor (!!!) we helped with the laying of new rush matting in the High Great Chamber, cleaned several delicate textile pieces of our collection, built goodness knows how many towers of scaffolding, moved many paintings, returned the Queen to her rightful place,set up the Hall for Smythson’s year of fame (Including a new exhibition in the Duke’s Room) I’ve been on the Housekeeping Study Days, become much more involved with the Living the History Volunteers, and learnt so much more about Hardwick and its collection. Not to mention setting up and taking down Christmas and being open for a month in the middle; not bad for a few months work!
Now we are getting back into the swing of the open season we can turn our thoughts to new projects on the horizon. We have just sat down and re-planned our Deep Clean, because we got ahead of ourselves over the winter, so we are about to start working our way along the middle floor. We are also hoping to get into some of our store rooms and give them a good clean. Stores, unlike rooms open to the public, only need to be Deep Cleaned once every few years. It will be very exciting to get into these rooms and have a good look at all the treasures they house! (Especially since we have a plane to give the textile store a bit of a sort out!)
We have lots of textile related activities planned as well. The next Gideon to go away for conservation comes down in March, requiring us to put a large fixed scaffold tower in place. We also currently have the last of our Scipio tapestries rolled up in the Long Gallery. This was the last of the set to be conserved and returned to us a few weeks ago. It is now waiting for us to have a spare moment to rehang it in the State Withdrawing Room and complete the story. Our beautiful embroidery Penelope is returning the Hardwick in Spring, and with this a few other changes as we put on a new exhibition about the conservation project. Penelope is the first our four pieces of textiles that will be conserved, so this marks the end of the first stage in another long term project.
This week, along with getting back into our open season routine we finished the final step on of the Deep Clean on the top floor. We had left the Mary Queen of Scotts room until last as it is possible for us to Deep Clean this room while the public are in, we can just put the rope across the door and carry on. It was really nice to be working in front of the public again, we did a little bit over winter but not much as we were mostly closed. Now the Mary Queen of Scotts room is finished and with it the whole top floor.
I really enjoyed doing the Mary Queen of Scotts room as it was one of the first rooms I Deep Cleaned when I started working at Hardwick in March next year. It feels quite nice to be back where I started, and now know what to expect from each room, which will hopefully help us keep up the speed at which we have been working so far, However watch this space, with all we’ve got planned and the unexpected things life always throws at us I doubt it will be long before something interesting crops up and throws our plans into chaos!