New covers for old chairs

This week our sewing volunteer Kristine came to fit some new dust covers for the chairs in the Reynolds Room.  Greater access in the Reynolds Room has been made possible this year by the use off the eyemat replica carpet.(

3 chairs in the Reynolds Room with new covers

As a part of the experimental re-display of the room we also wanted to take away the ropes and stanchions.  This just couldn’t be done without some thought given to how the upholstery of the furniture might be protected from increased dust (as visitors can now get much closer) but also from physical ware and tear caused by touching.

Every touch is damaging. Our silk velvet handling frame in the Great Hall. A modern version of the material used for the upholstery of the Reynolds Room furniture suite.

This silk may look like someone has taken a razor to it but the damage has just been caused by many 1000s of hands.

After much discussion it was decided that we would see if the lovely people at Eyemats could photograph the material and make us a suitable printed fabric thin enough to be could be sewn.  After a few attempts to get the right colour match, Kristine measured the furniture to decide how many metres we would need to order.  It has taken a few weeks to make them but now all the chairs have covers.

We decided to try using this technique instead of the traditional checked or plain cotton dust covers. These bespoke covers although not a perfect match to the original material give visitors an idea of what is underneath while also protecting the material. Once the settee’s have their covers on too, you will probably have to do a ‘double take’ before you realise they are covers.

Once the settee’s have their covers made the ropes and stanchions will be removed in the room.  The suite of furniture in the Reynolds Room is much younger than some of other pieces dating from the Queen Anne period, and after recent investigation prompted by some annotated late 19th  century inventories, we believe the existing upholstery to be much later too.  Due to age of this furniture, it is much more stable and less fragile than other pieces in the collection, which is why it was decided this was the right room to trial not having any ropes or stanchions.

In other conservation news…

Nick from Cliveden Conservation finished the re-grouting of the Great Hall floor today.

Nick paints in the new grouting so it doesn’t look too white and new.

Before and after

Once complete you can’t see which are the newly grouted areas and which aren’t.

Once completed you can’t tell which areas have been re-grouted. Left side of the photo has new grouting yet to be painted. top and right has been painted and blends in to the floor perfectly.

Here is one of our previous blogs that explains more about the conservation work to the Great Hall and Great Stairs floors:

Lucy, Melinda, Sarah and Emily



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