Our recent Conservation in Action demonstrations have been going great. With the help of our volunteers, we have: Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
During the winter clean, work in the Yellow Taffeta bedroom uncovered a number of woolly intruders. Within the 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 bed 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.
With the end of March comes the grand pest trap change over…
Want some handy hints on how to clean your home, using methods tried and tested at National Trust properties? National Trust East have published a post offering just this. Take a look. We also use some of these at Osterley.
Originally posted on National Trust in the East :
Many of us have struggled through a tough spring clean and know just how much hard work is involved. But can you imagine cleaning a country mansion, the likes of which National Trust teams tackle each and every year?
Never mind the sheer size of the places involved and the number of rooms, there are delicate and historically important objects everywhere – from carpets, tapestries and ceramics to marble busts, carved wooden staircases and sparkling chandeliers. Just think of the number of chimneys that require sweeping and we have just one or two windows to clean!
Many of the jobs we carry out at our places are the same as those you do at home, just on a larger scale! So we’ve asked those ‘in the know’ at the National Trust to put their thinking caps on and bring you a list of their top tips to get your…
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… prepare the house for opening?
As many as possible. When a room has been put to bed for the winter and then needs to be ‘woken up’, there is a lot to do. There is the acid-free tissue paper that needs to be removed, folded and put back into storage for the next winter clean.
Dust covers that needed to be taken off the furniture and also put back into storage, in the Housekeeping Store.
Some rooms have curtains that need to be lifted up and adjusted, after the winter when they were allowed to hang down whilst being dusted.
I can’t give you an exact number for the house overall, but to give you an idea of how many people are needed to make sure each room is spick and span, ready for opening, just take a look at the Long Gallery. This room alone required three volunteers and one Assistant House Steward to dust and vacuum this 130ft long space. And that’s just one (rather long) room. Not all four people are visible in the picture below. That’s because one volunteer is just out of shot on the right and the other one was the photographer.
Not counting the basement, the Breakfast Room, the Adam Room, the corridors and Grand Stair, there are 12 rooms on display, which all need to be cleaned and made ready for visitors to see them. This many rooms calls for teamwork, which is why each season, there are so many people pulling together, both volunteers and staff, to ensure the house is ready to welcome visitors so they can once again, or for the first time, enjoy the delights there are on offer.
We are well into the new year now and the team at Osterley have certainly had a productive start to 2015.