On the 30th October we saw the last of the 2011 seasons visitors through the House. Having had a very busy open season there is no time for a rest as this week we began the winter clean. The four months the house is closed to allow us to thoroughly inspect and clean the collection and then put the dust covers to protect objects from dust and light exposure.
It takes the team up until Christmas to get through all the show rooms. Once smaller objects and items of furniture are cleaned and covered we place them in the centre of the rooms to allow access with ladders all the way around the edge of the room.
After Christmas we return to each room and clean the room from ceiling to floor which involves de-cobwebbing ceilings, dusting panelling and picture frames, vacuuming and then waxing floors by hand. Before we know it, it’s nearly the end of February and we have to think about uncovering the rooms again ready for another season that begins mid March.
So far four rooms have been ‘put to bed’, Lady Betty’s Bedroom and Sitting Room and the Spangled Bedroom and Dressing Room. The carpet in the Spangled Bedroom was cleaned by Sarah and Melinda on Monday, after emptying their vacuum bags they had collected 37 grams of dust, which doesn’t sound much but it’s a lot for a very fragile and rare carpet that is 300 years old!
Tomorrow we will continue in the Billiard Room and Venetian Ambassadors Bedroom. The Billiard Table baize will be vacuumed to remove dust, and also hopefully some of the mould growth we discovered today. We may even get ahead of schedule and start in the Leicester Gallery too. Our progress so far has been helped by the team of volunteers who come and help the team in the winter.
It has been unusually mild so we haven’t got our many thermal layers, fingerless gloves and woolly hats on yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long before we do. Knole has a reputation for being one of the coldest NT houses during the winter season.
We’ll keep you posted with our progress!