Moths and Uniforms at the Museum of the Order of St. John

Source: Moths and Uniforms at the Museum of the Order of St. John

The above post by West Dean College caught our eye as we have also had a problem with moths at Osterley as well as carpet beetle, which saw us having to quarantine items of the collection, in an attempt to kill off the pests that had been hiding away, enjoying themselves on our quality textiles.

A Christmas round-up

Hajira dusting the Library ceiling at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Hajira dusting the Library ceiling from the scaffold at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

December has arrived and it’s not long ’til Christmas.  The preparations outside have begun with the lights up in the trees near the stables and inside, the decorations for our Georgian Christmas have been going up.  Amidst all of this, the house team have continued the Winter Clean.  Below is a round-up of what has been achieved already. Continue reading

Polished to perfection


Volunteer applying polish to fireplace poker in the Family Entrance at Osterley Park House (image: Laura Brooks)

Volunteer applying polish to fireplace tongs in the Family Entrance at Osterley Park House (image: Laura Brooks)

On a lovely sunny Saturday, before the downpours that we have endured recently, two of our conservation volunteers were hard at work in the house, cleaning metalwork.

Continue reading

Emergency Planning

Last week Assistant House Steward Lizzie attended an Emergency Salvage training course at Dudley Community Fire Station.

As an open house museum with significant architecture and collection it is essential for Osterley to have plans in place in case of an emergency. The emergency plans include information such as contact details of people who can be called in to help, maps of water sources, documentation to be filled in and priority items that need to be rescued, to name a few.

Dressed for action

The course covered vital information about how to prevent emergencies from occuring, as well as action to take when they do.

As well as the usual presentations and case studies, the training included practical experience of staged events, such as an example of water coming through a building that the trainees were required to divert away.

Water exercise

 Deciding how to safely move a painting

Transporting books









The trainees also entered a smoke filled building wearing breathing apparatus to gain an understanding of the conditions the fire service often have to work in, and therefore how clear emergency plans need to be.


The final practical was a simulated fire, with trainees required to react to the incident by putting the emergency plans into place, salvaging the priority objects and treating the vulnerable items.

Air drying booksThe training was excellent and important for all those on property who may one day need to assist in an emergency situation.  

What’s hiding under the bed?

During the winter clean, work in the Yellow Taffeta bedroom uncovered a number of woolly intruders.  Within theIMG_1956 fabric of the bed hangings, curtains and dressing table, a worrying amount of woolly bears, the larvae stage of the varied carpet beetle were found.  Woolly bears are particularly unwelcome in a mixed collection as organic materials like furniture and textiles are their favourite food.

The area bellow the bed needs to be frequently vacuumed as the adult beetle will lay its eggs under furniture.  The larvae thrive in undisturbed areas, so frequent checking, dusting and vacuuming can help to prevent their continued activity.  The regular checks for pests involve inspecting all the textiles with a torch and gently disturbing the tassels on the beIMG_1439d hangings and curtains with a soft brush to see if anything is hiding within them.  All pest findings are recorded and reported so that levels can be continuously monitored in case of increasing numbers.

The most recent inspection of the textiles in the Yellow Taffeta bedroom fortunately yielded no new woolly bear discoveries.  This may be a result of the regular cleaning and checking of the area and we are hoping for a continued absence of larvae throughout spring, the prime egg hatching period for this damaging pest.