Cleaning the chandelier

Last week was an especially busy one for the house team as we undertook the massive task of cleaning the six sconces and chandelier in the Saloon. The chandelier alone contains 4,000 pieces of cut glass, so it’s not a quick job! This year it was my turn to organise it – which was easier said than done, as it meant going through eleven people’s calendars to co-ordinate when they were available to do some cleaning and ensuring everyone did an equal amount.

The wall sconces were our first task, which took us Monday and Tuesday afternoons to finish. We used ladders to reach them and carefully dusted the ormolu and glass drops with a soft pony hair brush, before cleaning each drop with a cloth dampened with a mixture of distilled water and methylated spirits.

A close-up of one of the wall sconces being cleaned

A close-up of one of the wall sconces being cleaned

On Wednesday it was time to tackle the chandelier. Unlike in Only Fools and Horses we’re not able to lower it, which means we have to go up to it instead. Several of us on the house team have free-standing scaffold licences so we were able to erect the scaffolding in the middle of the room to make the cleaning possible. I really enjoy it when we have opportunities to use the scaffolding; it’s a change of pace and I love seeing the showrooms from a different perspective.

Me, Freya and Claire taking a break from assembling the scaffolding for a quick photo opportunity!

Me, Freya and Claire taking a break from assembling the scaffolding for a quick photo opportunity!

To clean the chandelier we proceeded in much the same way as with the sconces: first thoroughly dusting it and then cleaning the glass drops with the water and meths mixture to bring up a beautiful shine. The only difference was trying to remember which bits we’d already cleaned! It’s great fun being able to do this sort of work in front of the public as it’s something unusual for them to see, and I love being able to talk to them about how we care for the objects in our collection.

Freya and Claire cleaning the glass drops with a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and methylated spirits

Freya and Claire cleaning the glass drops with a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and methylated spirits

The final task was to condition report the chandelier to check its condition hasn’t deteriorated since it was cleaned last year. This is still something of a work in progress as condition reports involve drawing an accurate picture of the item, which is difficult to do with such a large and detailed object. Every item in our collection has a condition report, usually only one page long; the chandelier’s, on the other hand, is twenty-six pages in length!

Me explaining to the others how the condition report for the chandelier works

Me explaining to the others how the condition report for the chandelier works

We finished mid-afternoon on Friday, leaving the chandelier looking beautiful and sparkling. Why not visit us and see it for yourselves?

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