Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Brasso, Beeswax and Elbowgrease: Petworth House Undercover

This week has been a bit different for the conservation team as we have been running tours in the house during our winter clean.

These specialist tours take visitors through areas we are currently cleaning and beyond, offering the chance to see behind the scenes and meet the conservation team, both staff and volunteers.

We have been encouraging visitors to ask questions about how we care for the collection during winter. We have had a number of familiar questions – such as what we use to clean the collection and the policies of the National Trust on preventative conservation. But we have also had some more - how shall I put it – peculiar, questions, as well as interesting suggestions on how we could be cleaning the collection!

Volunteer tour guide Chris and Conservation Assistant Michelle talking to visitors in the Somerset Room. We opened up the Boulle-work writing desk to show off its beautiful tortoiseshell interior. They loved being able to see the inside of the desk, which is usually closed. It was the first time Chris had seen it too!

Volunteer Conservation Assistant Tasha talking in the Square Dining Room. Lots of questions were asked in here about how we reach all the pictures, and in particular about the conservation issues surrounding Reynold's Macbeth (an update on which will be coming soon)

Volunteer Conservation Assistant Jill dermonstrating how we clean our ceramics collection. A chilly job in the Marble Hall.

These special tours will be running Monday 25th - Wednesday 27th November. There are four tours a day – 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm and 2:30pm. Each tour lasts 45 minutes and costs £5, or free to National Trust members. So if you’d like to meet the team and find out the answers to some of the above questions, or your own, come and join us!

We hope to see you next week.

Conservation Assistant

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Rolling, rolling, rolling...

Since our last conservation blog post, the team have moved out of Oak Hall and into the Somerset Room. This year because the ‘Constable at Petworth’ exhibition, which is taking place from 11 January to 14 March next year, will require the use of the Somerset and Square Dining Rooms, we need to get the deep clean done here first.

So far, so good!

Dusting one of the many paintings and it's frame in the Somerset Room. Easiest for two people to do it working on different levels of the scaffolding (sometimes three if it's a really big picture!)

Cleaning the curtains. We drop the curtains during the winter so that they can be completely dusted off. We do this with an upholstery attachment on the vacuum, which might be covered in gauze depending on the fragility of the material. The curtains in the Somerset Room are relatively robust. They look very dramatic hanging down in the room!
A "how to" in moving ceramics! Large vases like these are best moved by rolling them along the base, supporting the body by leaning the weight of the ceramic into your own body.

The safest way to transport ceramic! We used a pump truck to remove this vase from its plinth before I cuddled it while we moved it between rooms! (There were photos were I was actually smiling, but I was told I looked too happy, so I used the most serious of the lot!)
We are looking forward to welcoming visitors for the first of our Petworth House Undercover snapshot tours next week!

Conservation Assistant

Monday, 11 November 2013

Petworth House Christmas Fair 2013

On the weekend of the 23rd and 24th November Petworth House will be hosting its iconic Christmas Fair. Opening times are 10.30am - 3.30pm on both days - adult entry is £5 (including NT members) and children are free.

The stallholders
With over 120 stallholders there will be plenty of choice for everybody, from jewellery and home accessories to chocolates, jams and chutneys. A selection of stallholders are listed below:

A Taste of Dreams 
Organic, gluten free and vegan cakes handmade on the Glynde Estate, East Sussex.

Goddard Ceramics
A fine selection of hand crafted necklaces and unique ornaments.

Second Nature
Home-made soaps made from the finest natural ingredients

Award-winning jellies, chutneys, jams, conserves, marmalades and fresh products.

A gift with a difference...
We shall have a National Trust stand in the exhibition room selling tickets for our Christmas spectacular A Festive Feast for the Eyes and for the Constable exhibition in the new year. Please click on the event titles for more information - A Festive Feast for the Eyes will run from 30th November till the 22nd December (closed Thursday/Friday) and the Constable exhibition will run from 11th January to the 14th March 2014.

A crisp winters walk
Once your Christmas shopping is done, why not relax with a lovely stroll through Petworth Park. The park looks particularly atmospheric at this time of year, especially on frosty mornings!