We are well into 2014 now and the winter clean is continuing, ready for when the house opens in March. As explained in our post ‘That time of year’, the winter clean is also known as ‘Putting the house to bed.’ Charlecote Park, a National Trust property in Warwickshire, also blogged on this recently and gave a good explanation as to how and why it is done, in their post ‘Putting the house to bed’.
Meanwhile, at Osterley, the Drawing Room has been done and dusted, literally. One of the first things we had to do when we prepared to clean this room, was to carefully move the furniture out and into the Long Gallery so as to be able to move in the scaffold which would be used to clean those hard to reach areas by the wonderful Robert Adam ceiling, part of which can be seen in the picture above and below.
Some of the cleaning undertaken here involved the gilded shutters as well as the equally gilded decoration by the windows, as below.
This gilding cannot be cleaned with a hard bristle brush or a cloth. Instead we use the same technique as outlined in our previous post on cleaning lacquer, with one addition. A piece of muslin is affixed to the vacuum nozzle, which will catch any flecks or larger pieces of gilt that may come off during the clean. If larger pieces do fall off, then the clean may have to stop as the gilt may be too delicate. Below is a picture of the muslin atop the vacuum nozzle just as the dusting began.
By the way, if you’re wondering about the mitten, it was a cold day. Warm clothes (preferably layers) are vital in a house like Osterley in the winter and early spring (and sometimes, the summer too!).
The next couple of pictures are after the gilding had been dusted. During the clean, the muslin had to keep being inspected just to make sure there were no larger pieces. Fortunately, there were just one or two flecks. You can see, however, just how dusty it had got over last season.
This is just one example of the amount of dust that is removed during the winter clean. So that the team know how dusty an object becomes over a year, samples are usually taken and recorded in each room’s folder.
If you want to see more about Osterley’s winter clean (and you haven’t been put off by the amount of dust the house collects), then next time we will show pictures of the team cleaning the Long Gallery.
If you want to know about opening times for the new season, visit the website. If you are a National Trust member, you can also use your new handbook, but don’t forget to check online where you can find more in-depth information.