Osterley is a house full of things to intrigue and excite, and I don’t just mean the collection. One room that sometimes proves interesting to visitors is the Library. There are a couple of reasons for this, one of which we’ll blog about at a later date, but the other is its colour, or rather, lack of, as some would say. For a house that combines pink with green in one room, contains a rather beautiful shade of blue in another (if we do say so ourselves), whilst yet another is a riot of colour (and largely unfaded after more than two hundred years), you could be forgiven for thinking that every single room was just as colourful, other than the servants’ rooms, of course. This is not the case.
When Robert Adam designed the Library, so the story goes, he produced various schemes, some that would have involved the use of more colour. Guess which scheme Mr. Child preferred.
When the team turned their attention to cleaning this room a few weeks ago, they were able to get up close and personal with Adam’s amazing eye for detail that encompassed everything in the room, right down to the fireplaces.
The fireplaces weren’t left out in the winter clean. Conservation techniques were applied to the cleaning of the marble, the fenders, fire grates and implements. In the pictures below, you can see a table with the acid-free tissue paper that we mentioned in our last post ‘Cleaning a 130ft long room’.
Underneath the acid-free is bubble wrap, which provides cushioning and protection to the objects as they are cleaned. The fire tongs, pokers and shovels were laid out on the table, as below, before being dusted with a low-suction museum vacuum and pony hair brush. The pony hair, as explained before, is softer and won’t scratch the metal. The fire grates were also cleaned in this way, as were the fenders which were lifted onto the table.
The marble, which is considered more robust, was again cleaned with a museum vacuum but instead of the pony hair, a hogs hair was used to gently encourage the dust out of the surround, and a banister brush was used on the mantel pieces as well as the fire backs. As always, condition reports were carried out, so as to keep track of any changes in their condition.
These techniques were also used in the Breakfast Room. If you’ve been reading our sister blog on the Breakfast Room, then you’ll know there isn’t as much in this room that needs careful attention, compared to the other showrooms,
For this reason, the team didn’t need to spend as much time in here, leaving them free to move on to other parts of the house. However, it wasn’t going to be left out, so it was given a deep clean, with the shutters and skirting tended to by Lizzie, one of our Acting House Stewards, as shown below, whilst one of our volunteer conservation assistants tended to the fireplace, fender and implements.
Additional cleaning in the Library included careful dusting of the shelves, which contain books with interesting titles like those in the picture below.