Traditionally most country houses close their doors for the winter and begin the winter deep clean which you will often hear called “putting the house to bed”. This is a process that has been carried out for hundreds of years. The task once performed by housemaids has been continued by house teams up and down the country, protecting the collections from dust and damage over the winter months.
Putting the house to bed is based on the traditional approach of shutting up the house when the family was away, which would have been carried out by servants in the 18th and 19th century. Much like we do today they would have put away smaller objects, rolled carpets, covered furniture with dust overs and closed the shutters.
Almost every piece of furniture in our show rooms have custom made protective covers which we put on over the winter after we have “deep cleaned” and condition checked the object. This protects it from wear and tear, dust and from light damage over the winter months. Traditionally entire houses would be put to bed in this way which often included covering chandeliers, paintings and other fittings like mirrors, we still wrap a few of our chandeliers up, but because the house is still used by staff most of them stay unwrapped after cleaning.
National Trust houses are now open longer than ever before and at Polesden Lacey we are moving towards the house being open for 363 days of the year. The estate and gardens are already open 363 days of the year and soon you will always be able to see some of the house as well. We have an exciting project to open up new spaces to the public and offer new experiences when the house would traditionally be closed. For the House Team, this will mean a slight change in the way we do things. We are at the moment in the process of undertaking our winter deep clean. We have written lots of blogs about our methods of deep cleaning which you can find linked at the bottom of this post, if you haven’t already read them they give you a fascinating insight into just what goes on behind the scenes. We will be busy rolling carpets, cleaning rooms from top to bottom, carefully covering furniture, moving paintings and even climbing up scaffolding to inspect and clean the Central Hall. In the future more and more of this conservation work will take place in front of the public. You may have spotted the house team deep cleaning our showrooms if you visited this year, undertaking what we call Conservation in action. Longer opening times will mean more Conservation in action, we are excited for showing you all more of what we do and sharing the stories of the objects we protect.
We hope that you will take the opportunity to visit the House and see more of what we get up to, come for a tour In January, February or March weekends and see how far we have got. You might be able to spot a few rolled up carpets and furniture put to bed!
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