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While the garden is commonly associated with wildlife, the house is rarely viewed as a habitat. Colonies of bats use our roof spaces as roosts, wild bees live in the chimney of our panelled bedroom, ladybirds hibernate in the crevices of our sash windows, and a solitary wasp might spend winter in the upper fold of a thick warm curtain. While some creatures are welcome at Nunnington Hall others could quite literally destroy the hall from the inside out.
For this reason we have a conservation team that cares for the fabric and contents of the hall and they are on constant alert for signs of activity – insect carcasses on window sills or floors and patches of unexplained wear on a carpet which indicate the presence of woolly bears (Carpet Beetle larvae). The oak beams so predominant in the Hall are a particularly attractive meal ticket for a Death Watch Beetle and silverfish find books to be very tasty. The smallest of animals can drum up the biggest bills if their eating habits aren’t carefully controlled.
To prevent this from happening we have insect traps, throughout the hall, that attract bugs and trap them so we have an instant insight into what is happening in a room and the scale of the problem. This revealed a problem with clothes moths which dine on anything with a wool or organic content. By adding a pheromone capsule to the sticky pad we managed to decrease the number of male moths procreating. The conservation team have also massively reduced the number of moths and larvae present by cleaning and packing all our textiles and rugs, vacuum sealing them and then placing them in a big fridge. At -24C the freezing process kills off any moths or larvae present.
With the responsibility of caring for the fabric and contents of National Trust houses, Nunnington Hall and conservation teams across the country have a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week challenge to ensure the long term preservation of some of the country’s finest treasures for future generations.