Wow – where did November and December go? We’ve been so busy winter cleaning Christmas crept up on us. The house has been a hive of activity. We’ve worked our way through all the show rooms, condition assessing and cleaning all objects and furniture, which are now put to bed under their winter covers.
Working alongside us in the show rooms have been conservators, architects and archaeologists. Sadly they weren’t helping us with the winter clean, but carrying out enabling works to help inform the interior conservation work due to start in 2016. Graham Marley, furniture / wood conservator, has been drafted in to lift our historic floorboards and wooden wall panelling. Some of the floorboards that were identified for lifting are those which have been lifted up in the past and so should have been easy to lift again.
Before enabling works began in any of the rooms, we had put them to bed first as a precaution in case a lot of dust was created in the process. We had to move some paintings too before Graham could actually access the panelling.
When we went through one of our secret passageways we discovered…
With boards lifted and panelling down our architects have been able to investigate the unseen structure of the building to try and identify routes that cabling will take. The show rooms will be re-wired during the work, which will allow us to upgrade our historic lighting and install various types of heating equipment. By the end of the project the show rooms at Knole will have conservation heating for the first time in their history.
The enabling works also provides the opportunity to look how the sub-structure of the floors were constructed. All of the work has been recorded by building archaeologists from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA). We’ve been hoping for some exciting finds under the floors and stashed away in the walls. We haven’t found any human bones or lost documents, but plenty of other things that tell the story of how these rooms have been used over the centuries.
In the New Year, we’ll be back to work off all the turkey and mince pies by cleaning all the show rooms from ceiling to floor. Scaffold at the ready!
Alex, Emily, Lucy, Melinda, Sarah & Zena