Our last blog focused on the care of our wooden floors in the show rooms, but we also have a beautiful 400 year stone floor in the Great Hall and at the Bottom of the Great Stairs.
The Great Hall was built as a part of Archbishop Bourchier’s palace in circa 1460, but the Purbeck marble floor visitors walk over today probably dates from Thomas Sackville’s, 1st Earl of Dorset, remodelling of the building in 1605-1608.
The floor is naturally showing signs of deterioration due to its age, and the wear and tear it has experienced. Cliveden Conservation* have produced a survey the floor and this week carried out some repair trials before remedial conservation takes place in a couple of weeks to the areas in need of attention.
There is a lot of staining along the Stone Court side of the Hall floor and Water Court side of the stair floor. This indicates an external source of damp which has resulted in the ingress of salts. The salt crystallises as the stone dries leaving the stain, and eventual loss of the stones polished surface.
Conservation of the floors in the hall and stair will include the removal of surface dirt to improve the appearance of the floor; consolidation of flaking areas of stone; cracks will be filled with runny mortars, known as grouts, to fill voids and support weak areas. The ‘grouts’ will be capped with mortar colour matched to the existing stone; lime mortar will be used to repointing between stones to stop them rubbing together and prevent grit and dirt getting trapped between stones.
This week the Cliveden team were in to carry out mortar and consolidant trials on some test patches. The mortar needs adhere to the stone and function as required but it also needs to have the right appearance. In a couple of weeks they will be back to begin on the remedial repairs.
Once the conservation work has been completed lets hope the floor will last another 400 years!
Sarah, Lucy, Melinda and Emily
* You can find out more about Cliveden Conservation via their website: http://www.clivedenconservation.com/