Spot checks!

This is an interesting post about the work that the team at Knole do to monitor environmental conditions (relative humidity, light, UV, etc.) within the house, just as we do at Osterley and other properties across the National Trust.

NT Knole Conservation Team Blog

One of the most important things we do at Knole is keeping an eye on the environmental conditions in the Showrooms. We do this through a combination of ways. Our primary method is using individual monitoring sensors in each room that send a regular signal back to the office detailing the Relative Humidity (RH) and temperature in each space. By this method we can keep an up to the minute record of what’s going on.

IMAG2822 Our regular ‘Hanwell’ environmental monitors. This one is in a storage space and is showing an RH reading of 58%, right where we want it.

However, because of our current project and the work going on to improve the lighting, conservation heating and all sorts of other things it means that we don’t have proper radio monitors in some rooms right now.

photo RH in some rooms sometimes reaches worryingly high levels. It’s essential to keep…

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Plowden Medal winner – Ksynia Marko

Congratulations Ksynia.

Textile Conservation Studio

We are delighted to let you know that Ksynia Marko our Textile Conservation Advisor has been awarded by the Royal Warrant Holders Association the prestigious Plowden Medal 2016 for her outstanding contribution to Britain’s cultural heritage. You can read more about the award  here.

250-year-old tapestries are checked for pests at Osterley Park 250-year-old tapestries at Osterley are checked for pests by textile conservation advisor, Ksynia Marko, from Norfolk. Photo © Johnny Green/PA Wire

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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.

Care of Collections: Metal Cleaning

Recently we discovered some erosion in the form of rust on a steel fireplace fender in the library at Osterley Park & House. Please view our short video demonstrating how metal is cleaned according to National Trust conservation standards. More information can be found in the Manual of Housekeeping. Enjoy. Hajira & Kate( Conservation Assistants)

Conservation in Action: Metal Cleaning

Lacquer Screen Conservation at Osterley Park House

Thanks to support from the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, over the past three weeks, three important pieces of lacquer furniture from Osterley’s colleciton have been painstakingly conserved by a team of specialists. The items of furniture include an amorial folding screen and two chests.

This has been not only a fantastic and rare opportunity to undertake in-situ conservation work in front of the public, but also a fascinating insight into the unique properties of lacquer and a chance to learn about the main causes of damage and the detailed processes involved in conserving it.

Do come and see the finished results now that the work is complete. The lacquer screen will return to its temporary home in the North Corridor. One of the chests will also return to it’s home in Mrs Child’s Dressing Room. The final chest, normally stored in our Upper Store will be moved to the Jersey Galleries, as part of our ‘Highlights of the Store’ display so that the conservation work can be seen seven days a week! 

To find about a bit more about lacquer conservaiton, click on the links below:

1.) Introduction to Lacquer PDF

2.) Deterioration and Damage PDF

3.) Conservation and Restoration PDF 





Van Dyck, Dobson and their Mannerist frames

The Frame Blog have posted on the Van Dyck self-portrait, that has recently been saved for the nation by the National Portrait Gallery, and the Dobson self-portrait that now resides at Osterley, as part of the recent ten year loan from the Earl of Jersey. Both of these portraits once belonged to the the Childs, the family that owned Osterley, having been bought by Francis Child.

The Frame Blog

Dobson & Van Dyck sm

(left) Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), Self-portrait, c.1640-41, National Portrait Gallery, London; (right) William Dobson (1611-46), Self-portrait, c.1645, Earldom of Jersey Trust

The vivid self-portrait (left) – painted just before Van Dyck’s early death in 1641, and which has now been acquired for the National Portrait Gallery – is notable not only for its technical skill and immediacy but for its dramatic Mannerist frame. It is also linked, in an intriguing way, to the self-portrait painted by William Dobson in homage (right), which has an almost identical frame. Dobson produced his own portrait around 1645 (he died only five years after Van Dyck, at the even earlier age of 35)[1] and the two paintings were united (probably around 1708), remaining in the same collections until Van Dyck’s Self-portrait was sold in 2009.

Van Dyck Self portrait sm

Van Dyck (1599-1641), Self-portrait, c.1640-41

Van Dyck and Dobson were both precociously gifted artists, who…

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