After the hustle and bustle of Christmas the main focus of the house team will once again be on our deep cleaning schedule. This winter is the last one where the house will be closed on weekdays between January and March, until we open for Easter. It is therefore our last opportunity to undertake any behind the scenes deep cleaning that is more easily completed away from the watchful eyes of visitors! This is not because we don’t want our visitors to see our work (we actually really enjoy explaining what we do), it’s really to keep our visitors safe, especially when we are working from very high scaffolding for example.
One of the main tasks to be completed in January is the cleaning of the reredos in the central hall. This requires some very tall scaffolding and is therefore why we try to complete it behind closed doors. Whilst we have the scaffolding in place there will also be some repairs and re-decorations to the ceiling in the central hall. We will also have some textile conservators coming in to take a closer look at some of our tapestries, and to make sure that they are all in good condition.
It is this time of year that our conservation demonstrators really come into their own! They are our volunteers who help us with all our deep cleaning, as well as completing more general cleaning tasks when the house is open. A big part of their role is to help with cleaning our items and to record this on our condition reports. These records are vitally important, as they detail when each item was last cleaned and how it was cleaned. It also has a diagram of the object with details of any damage, such as cracks, worn gilding and many other problems, so that we can see how the condition of each item in the collection is changing. Without these records we wouldn’t be able monitor our collection, which is why it is so important that we fill them in for every item.
When we re-open in March we will be continuing with our conservation in action,where everyone can see what our roles involve, so do come and chat with us as we continue with our year round cleaning plan.