Some how we’ve made it through another very busy open season in the house. It’s only one and half weeks now until we start to put the house to bed for the winter. Although with this warm and humid weather it feels like it should be months away yet. The winter clean can take a bit of planning. We start with putting a schedule together of what days we’ll be cleaning and putting to bed which rooms. We record each year how long it takes us to put a room to bed so that we can allocate a sensible amount of time for the following year. Some rooms like the King’s Closet only take half a day, where the Cartoon Gallery will take us nearer four days.
This winter we have the added challenge of enabling works taking place in the show rooms. This will involve floorboards being lifting and some areas of panelling being removed so the architects for internal show room conservation work can begin to plan where services can be hidden and where insulation can go in to the internal walls.
We’ve worked with our project conservator and building surveyor to plan the cleaning and enabling works schedules around each other. That way we can put rooms to bed first and protect or move necessary items and then the enabling works, which may disrupt a lot of hidden dust, can go ahead with the collection protected. We’re excited about the prospect of finding hidden treasures that have been lost under floorboards. It may turn out to be a lot of old entrance tickets or buttons, but you never know!
Part of planning also includes carrying out a stock take of our equipment and materials. We do this four times a year, September, December, March and June. The items we buy most of, through the year are our nitrile gloves, vacuum bags for our five different types of vacuum, and pest insect traps. This month we’ve also been sourcing some extra equipment, as the Conservation Team is growing because of the work generated by the project, we’re now up to five Conservation Assistants. So we need more kit to aid them in doing their work.
So far we’ve bought an extra ergo vaccum, more bannister brushes, tool boxes for the team to carry all their brushes and dusters in, two more long handled dusters for those tricky to reach cobwebs! Then there is the new floor polisher, magnifying glasses, tape measures (which seem to go walkies!)
So with a plan on paper and equipment at the ready we’re in for a busy winter, lets just hope it isn’t as cold as last winter, when the show rooms were about 2 degrees Celsius!
Sarah, Zena, Emily, Lucy, Alex and Melinda