Winter clean at Berrington Hall
Find out what our house team are up to this winter, with cleaning and conservation projects underway.
Despite being closed for visitors during the week, winter is one of the busiest times for our house team, who spend a lot of time over the winter period cleaning the mansion and doing lots of conservation work.
This winter the house team will be deep cleaning our beautiful show rooms which includes cleaning our ceilings, floors and furnishings by using a variety of conservation cleaning methods. They will also be moving furniture from store rooms to create new displays in the house, cleaning up after the restoration work to the glass dome ceiling in the Staircase Hall and helping to maintain the house for our open weekends.
The ceilings at Berrington are one of the only pieces of the collection which date back to the original decoration for Thomas Harley in the 1700’s. A small pony hair brush is used to gently brush the settling dust of the ceilings and into a hoover, meaning that they are the first items which are cleaned in a room. Ceilings only require cleaning once every 5 years but every year we have to inspect for damage, especially as the plaster and paintings are created on the ground before being attached to the ceiling in the wanted pattern. Each inspection is kept and compared against the state of the ceiling in the following year, this allows us to work out whether the existing damage such as cracks are getting bigger or if there is any new damage. These inspections mean that we can seek the correct conservator to repair and conserve our ceilings.
The reason we are doing this work is to make sure that Berrington is around for generations to come, in all its glory and effectively showcasing its rich history. One of the key elements of conservation is that any treatment or cleaning done to an item of our collection or to the property is reversable. We don’t stop decay but we do slow the process down. We also protect our collections from agents in our environment which can damage or harm our collection, such as light, pests, pollutants and moisture in the atmosphere. Not easy to do, but we try. We are always striving to find a balance between visitor access and enjoyment and looking after our collection.
We couldn’t do this work without the help of our volunteers, who work alongside the house team to make sure that all of our collection is cared for. Over the year you will find both staff and volunteers hard at work preserving and conserving our collection in front of our visitors and supporters, and sharing our conservation work with everyone who steps through our doors