Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s line “It was a dark and stormy night…” has never been more suitable to describe the weather Knole and indeed a lot of the rest of the country experienced on the night of 23rd December. I have never known wind like it (I was only two years old when the 1987 storm hit). So it was no surprise to me as I entered the show rooms the next morning to make an inspection of any water ingress or damage that we did indeed have some leaks. There were some I was expecting (through most of the windows. Leaded light widows aren’t great at keeping out driving rain,) and some leaks I wasn’t expecting.
As I entered the Brown Gallery I was greeted by a pool of water in the middle of the gallery floor. Not expected! After the initial ‘oh my god’ thoughts I radioed a colleague, Jo from the Premises Team, to come an help with the mopping up. We keep a special ultra absorbent material in stock, called ‘pig matting’, just for this type of situation. I started to mop up the water and find out if any furniture had got wet. Jo went up in to the east attics to try to find out how the water was getting. She discovered two very wet chimney breasts and floorboards next to them. It looked as if the wind and rain had been so violent the rain got in under lead flashing around the chimney stacks, came in to the attics down the breasts and then on to the floorboards and through the ceiling of the gallery below.
The water from the ceiling landed on top of some equipment that was being stored for use after Christmas. Unfortunately it all got wet, but it was also sat on top of a dust sheet which helped to soak up a lot of the water, preventing it from running along the floor in to all the furniture. The dust sheet frames also acted as barriers and stopped the water getting to the furniture, apart from one, Where the floor was uneven some water did get past the dust sheet to one foot of a chair.
A lot of the windowsills had drips and puddles of water on them.
The next worst area of water ingress was in the Ballroom bay window.
The rain made its way into the Ballroom via the ceiling and the window!
Pig matting was used to soak up the water and a plastic box that we store the winter dust sheets in was used to catch the drips from the ceiling.
The windowsill that collected the most water was on the Second Painted Stairs.
Although the sill itself is lead lined the water lapped up against the 1723 wall painting.
Our sun curtains and blinds got pretty soggy too.
The water stains the sun curtains and mould begins to grow.
It could have been a lot worse, thankfully Knole sits on a hill so we don’t have to worry about rising flood waters. The last two years of external building repairs have also made a huge difference, a lot more water would have made its way in two years ago.
We hope for calmer weather as we enter in to 2014.
Happy New Year