A winter clean and other things

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.

Lucy and Melinda cleaning one pair of torchere's from the Spangled Bedroom

Lucy and Melinda cleaning one pair of torchere’s from the Spangled Bedroom.

Winter cleaning in the Brown Gallery.

Winter cleaning in the Brown Gallery.

Newest member of the team, Alex, gets to grips with vacuum cleaning tassels!

Newest member of the team, Alex, gets to grips with vacuum cleaning tassels!

Zena vacuum cleans the textile of one of the Brown Gallery chairs.  Before beginning with the cleaning Zena condition checked the chair and updated the records on the laptop.

Zena vacuum cleans the textile of one of the Brown Gallery chairs. Before beginning with the cleaning Zena condition checked the chair and updated the records on the laptop.

The Cartoon Gallery 'put to bed'

The Cartoon Gallery ‘put to bed’

Hannah, one of our volunteers, removes dust from the silver urns in the King's Room.

Hannah, one of our volunteers, removes dust from the silver urns in the King’s Room.

Once the surface dust is removed, tarnish is then cleaned away using a Goddard's silver cloth.

Once the surface dust is removed, tarnish is then cleaned away using a Goddard’s silver cloth.

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.

Graham begins to remove some panelling in the Leicester Gallery.

Graham begins to remove some panelling in the Leicester Gallery.

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.

This portrait is the largest painting we had to move.  It took 6 of us.

This portrait is the largest painting we had to move. It took 6 of us.

As well as a fair few cobwebs behind the painting, was also a patch work of panelling.

As well as a fair few cobwebs behind the painting, was also a patch work of panelling.

When we went through one of our secret passageways we discovered…

That the panelling in the gallery correlates with this now blocked up window.

…that the panelling in the gallery correlates with this now blocked up window.

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.

A section of panelling removed from the north wall of the Brown Gallery.

A section of panelling removed from the north wall of the Brown Gallery.

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.

...and under the Leicester Gallery floor is part of a medieval wall, what remains of pre-Sackville Knole.

Under the Leicester Gallery floor is part of a medieval wall, what remains of pre-Sackville Knole.

Finds underneath the Brown Gallery floor.  That's where all our pencil's went!

Finds underneath the Brown Gallery floor. That’s where all our pencil’s went!

All the finds are recorded and processed by the MOLA archaeologists. Tassels and textile fibres have been found from the furniture too, even some cut human hair from under the Spangled Bedroom floor. Remnants of a 17th century hair cut...? Maybe.

All the finds are recorded and processed by the MOLA archaeologists. Tassels and textile fibres have been found from the furniture too, even some cut human hair from under the Spangled Bedroom floor. Remnants of a 17th century hair cut…? Maybe.

Archaeologists hard at work!  The hat was very necessary, Knole is far from warm this time of year.

Archaeologists hard at work! The hat was very necessary, Knole is far from warm this time of year.

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

 

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