Having recently removed all of the mould on the silk wall hangings, last week we set about cleaning Mrs Greville’s Dining Table and side tables. We roped off an area behind the dining table and set up tables covered with plasterzote to place the items on ready for cleaning. We used various brushes and dusting cloths to dust the items, depending on the materials they are made out of. We brush the dust into an ergo vacuum (a small vacuum that can be strapped to your back), so that it does not settle back onto other items. The silverware had already been cleaned and polished this year so it only needed dusting, allowing us to focus on the table cloths, porcelain and cutlery among other items on the dining table. We also dusted the side tables and the items displayed on top of these. Starting with the side tables, we worked section by section, taking the items off the table, vacuuming the table cloth, then dusting each item and placing it back onto the cleaned table.
We also have condition reports for every single item in the collection at Polesden, which we use to check whether the condition of any items has changed since they were last inspected and cleaned, and update them if necessary. This ensures we know what is happening to our collection, and can identify any objects which require immediate attention or need to be looked at in the near future. Our day to day housekeeping routine involves vacuuming the floors, dusting the flat surfaces and dust mopping the wooden floors, so it is important to really take the time to look closely at the collection during these deep cleans,as they are only really carried out annually.
Some of my favourite items to dust were the various pieces of silverware on display. I dusted one of the silver salvers currently displaying Barquettes Ecossaises or ‘Little Scottish Boats’, (a small savoury served at the end of the meal), because it gave me a chance to see the engraved decoration. Visitors also thoroughly enjoyed the chance to see the items up close and to see the work that we do here at Polesden. In the picture above there is a table plan for some of the guests that visited Mrs Greville. Next time you visit have a think about where each guest might have sat and make your own table plan. There will be plenty more opportunities to see the house team in action cleaning Polesden’s collections, so do come and visit! There will also be chances to join in with our cleaning on Messy Mondays during the school holidays so do look out for more information on this nearer the time.