So let’s catch up.
Opening weekend already seems like such a long time ago, it was so cold, and the run up to it had its usual amount of craziness. The cold weather had delayed building work and the application of the new lime render on the east wall. Lime render cannot be applied in temperatures below 5c otherwise it will not set properly. This in turn delayed the removal of internal dust protection in most of the first half of the house.
With the timetable of work somewhat out of everybody’s control due to the Siberian winter the UK was experiencing, finishing the winter clean and reinstating the show rooms affected by the building work proved to be a bit of challenging time. The Conservation Team as always pulled out all the stops to get everything ready on time.
Other jobs we had to do before we opened was find somewhere to temporarily store the two tapestries from Lady Betty’s Bedroom, that had been taken down for the building work. The tapestries are rolled on 4.5metre long tubes, so there aren’t many areas that presented themselves as suitable places to put them. We settled with under the refectory table into he Great Hall.
The beautiful Imari dish that has lived at the top of the Lead Stairs for many years has now been moved to the China Closet as part of the re-display of the space back to a historic inventory.
One of the nicest jobs to do to prepare for opening is starting up the clocks again. Once the clocks and ticking and chiming again it feels like the house is brought back to life ready for the new season. Thankfully they all behaved themselves and we didn’t have any problems in restarting them.
Museum of London Archaeology’s Geomatics team have been at Knole for several weeks now. They are undertaking a measured survey of the showrooms and new spaces we’ll be opening to visitors to provide, for the first time, accurate floor plans of the rooms. They will also be photographing the spaces and combining this information with survey information to provide elevation and ceiling plans so that we will have a three-dimensional picture.
This information will be used by architects, Rodney Melville Partnership, as part of the design process for the Inspired by Knole project and will also help us to identify key locations within the building (under the floorboards and behind the panelling) which we want to investigate further as part of the archaeological programme – to help us to better understand the origins and developments of the different parts of the building complex.
We have some brilliant new interpretation in the Venetian Ambassadors Bedroom, and most exciting of all, the conserved headboard of the James II Bed on display! The room has four boxes of parts of the bed that have returned from the Textile Studio. We won’t be reconstructing the bed until after the Inspired by Knole project, the less the parts of the bed are handled the less likely it is that any physical damage will occur to this historically important state bed.
Now we are settling in to the open season cleaning routine, which is differeent for us this year as the house is open 6 days a week, meaning less cleaning time. Therefore we have ad to re-jig our cleaning programmes and think about how best to use the time we do have and what the priority areas in the house are. We also have an extra room to care for, the newly opened Estate Office, which is home to Knole’s oral history project.
Lucy, Emily, Melinda, Sarah and Zena