As the second phase of external building work has finished we are beginning to reinstate the rooms affected. On Monday the first stage of returning Lady Betty’s Bedroom back to its normal self began with the re-hanging of the two seventeenth century tapestries.
Before we could prepare the tapestries for re-hanging, we needed to move Lady Betty’s bed forward to allow us enough room to work and fit in a ladder. To do this we lifted each leg of the bed one by one using lifting straps, to place sliderz under the legs. The sliderz allow us to slide the bed rather than lift it and move it, which creates less physical stress to the structure of the bed.
Textile conservator Zenzie Tinker came along to help us with the tapestries. The first task was to roll the tapestries on to different length rollers. While the tapestries were stored they were on rollers that were 4.5 meters long, this was to make sure they were stable while being held up on textile blocks. The ceiling of Lady Betty’s Bedroom is at least a meter shorter so we needed them on a shorter roller which would allow us to place the roller with tapestry rolled round it upright. This would then enable us to unroll the tapestry along the wall securing the tapestry to the wall with the Velcro as we went.
However best thought out plans don’t always go the way you hope. Initially we began to unroll one tapestry off its long roller and directly on to the new shorter roller. As we had almost completed this task the tapestry had rolled too much at an angle and the ends were spiralling off, which would cause us problems once it was upright. It was decided that we needed to fully unroll the tapestry so that it was flat out on the floor and re-roll the tapestry this way on to the new roller. This meant we could line the roller up better and have better control over the tapestry as we rolled it to prevent it rolling off centre.
The second attempt proved to be much easier and with in no time at all the tapestry was rolled and ready to be re-hung. Once the tapestry was positioned upright Zenzie climbed the ladder while other members of the Conservation Team footed the ladder and supported the tapestry. Then little by little the tapestry was unrolled and Zenzie secured the Velcro sewn on the top edge of the tapestry to the opposite strip of Velcro on a wooden baton on the wall.
The second tapestry proved to be much easier. For one it wasn’t as a wide as the first, so less textile to manage, also we started off swapping rollers by fully unrolling the tapestry and re-rolling it from flat. Our last job of the day was to reposition the bed again. The whole process took about 5 hours. Thanks to Zenzie for her assistance, it made the task much less stressful then had we attempted it on our own.
Emily, Zena, Lucy, Melinda and Sarah