Us Brits are obsessed with the weather. It’s a well-known fact. Not to mention one of our favourite topics of conversation. You can bet that this weekend, all round London, Osterley included, people have been remarking to one another on how lovely and warm each day has been, as it has been a few times over the past month, particularly when the thermometer reached into the thirties. On those days, we were very appreciative at Osterley for the cool conditions we work in on a daily basis.
One such warm day, while some of you may have been outside enjoying the sun, we were checking the Drawing Room carpet for moths and carpet beetles – those beasties who love to go to town on our high quality (and natural) fibres in carpets, tapestries, curtains and other textiles.
Yes, it is that time of year again.
Lisa, Jo and their eagle-eyed volunteers carefully inspected the carpet with their essential kit of tweezers, torch (or specialist conservation lights), magnifying glass and little plastic bags (not forgetting spectacles for those who needed them).
Unfortunately, a few moths and a carpet beetle were found, but it’s probably better to find something than nothing, as at least it means we didn’t miss any tiny threats to our beautiful Robert Adam designed carpet.
In addition to carpet checks, several weeks ago, the team went round the house, collecting pest traps from all the different places they’d been placed (under chairs and tables, in fireplaces, etc.) and discovered some insects that are a menace to Osterley’s house and collection (as well as some that aren’t – spiders and non-pest beetles). Around the same time, the bed in Mr and Mrs. Child’s Bedroom was checked for pests, along with the bolster cushion. This inspection was carried out by Jo, Lisa and, again, two trusty volunteers, who, as well as looking for insects, were checking for other signs of deterioration.
All these checks mean that the house team can monitor what is happening with the house and collection, and if some areas or pieces are becoming more fragile due to pests, light or one of the other agents of deterioration.