The Conservation Team returned to work on Tuesday (3rd) and it was an eventful start to the New Year for us. By mid morning the stormy weather had certainly arrived at Knole. Very strong winds battered the building from all sides, and with the amount of rain that had come with it we knew to expect water leaks in the show rooms. Lucy and Sarah went off to inspect all the usual areas we knew would leak.
However used we are to leaks; we were all surprised by how much water ingress had occurred on this occasion. Sarah, who has worked at Knole for 5 years now, couldn’t remember seeing a time when it had been as bad as it was on Tuesday.
There were so many leaks we ran out of our absorbent sheets and had to start using dust sheets, tea towels from the staff kitchen and anything else we could find to soak up the pools of water on the windowsills and splashes all over the floor.
Thankfully on this occasion the water didn’t make its towards any of the objects in the rooms, but the lead and wood around the windows has suffered. Tuesday was a timely reminder of why the building work that will begin in the Spring is so urgent and necessary. The work will finally see Knole become weather proofed and water tight. Even with a small amount of wind and rain there is always a leak somewhere.
This is because there are many holes in the roof, the rendering on the East front is failing and stone work on other walls has been eroded away so the water seeps in. Most of the windows in the show rooms need refitting. The property office doesn’t escape in bad weather either, there were so many drips on Tuesday we ran out of bowls!
Once we had dealt with the results of the weather it was back to the winter clean. Part 2 will be a bit different for us this year. As well as returning to each room to clean it ceiling to floor we will making preparations for the building work. For the first phase of work the North end of the Leicester Gallery, Museum Room, Billiard Room, Spangled Dressing Room and Spangled Bedroom. So we’ll be taking down paintings, rolling carpets and tapestries and packing away china and protecting larger items of furniture in-situ. These rooms where possible will stay open to visitors during the work. Winter is always a busy period for us, but the next 3 months will be even busier than usual. We’ll keep you posted with our progress and updates on the building work.
Happy New Year.
Emily, Melinda, Sarah and Lucy.