There's nothing like a good old spring clean

Cleaning the Chapel at Clumber Park

In the middle of January the Chapel of Saint Mary the Virgin briefly closed for a much needed ‘Deep Clean’ and now we are happy to once again and back to normal. The Deep Clean means the team of staff and volunteers clean from as high as we can reach all the way down, finishing with scrubbing the Chapel floors.

In the middle of January the Chapel of Saint Mary the Virgin briefly closed for a much needed deep clean. The team of staff and volunteers clean from as high as we can reach all the way down, finishing with scrubbing the Chapel floors.

The Chapel is stripped, with the paintings, chandeliers, glass lamps and altar pieces being taken down in order to clean them and the areas where they usually stand. A tower scaffold is built in the Nave and the pulpit, font and confessional are covered in dust sheets to protect them from falling debris. Services, which take place every Sunday, are moved to the Lady Chapel during the Clean to allow the work to take place.

Deep clean preperation underway
Deep clean preperation
Deep clean preperation underway

All this means that during the deep clean the Chapel looks very different from its usual self!

As is the case with all buildings that have such tall ceilings we cannot reach every nook and cranny, but standing on top of the scaffold, using an industrial vacuum with three poles attached we get as high as possible. We remove cobwebs, of which there are plenty, and vacuum the walls to remove dust. We do this so that we are reducing the amount of dust that might fall on the objects on the ground over the coming year.

Cleaning in progress
Cleaning in the Chapel
Cleaning in progress

The candlesticks that stand on top of the Rood Screen are  examples of something that should only be cleaned once a year. They are out of the way, so do not suffer from any corrosion due to people touching them, but they do get dusty and are affected by the humidity.

So once a year we bring them down from the Rood Screen, dust them off with a pony hair paint brush and then remove any corrosion. We do this with a metal cleaner in very minute quantities, gently applying it with wads of cotton.

After we have removed the corrosion we put a protective layer of wax on the candlesticks. This will stop any moisture in the air from reacting with the metal and potentially corroding the candlesticks. Finally they are buffed until the shine with a very soft duster, before being replaced on the Rood Screen.

Not all of the metals in the Chapel are treated like this however. Some pieces have been lacquered, which means a long lasting protective layer is placed on the metal. These pieces only require dusting and can be buffed up, again with a soft duster.

The same wax we use on metals can also be used on other objects, such as the marble floor that leads up to the altar in the Chancel. The floor is cleaned and then a fine layer of wax is added and buffed up. This increases the floors shine, as well as protecting it from dirt, grit and the effects of people walking across it.

While the walls are cleaned with a bristled hoover attachment, commonly known to us as the ‘fluffy head’, the intricate wooden carvings are gently cleaned with a hogs hair paint brush. This allows us to get into all the nooks of the beautiful carvings, making sure we are doing a really through job of removing cobwebs, dust and debris.

One of the last jobs to be done during the deep clean is to scrub the floor, a huge job. We use warm water with a very small amount of mild detergent in, and proper scrubbing brushes. It gives you a taste of the life of a parlour maid and makes me quite glad that I am not one!

Finally all the items are returned to their original positions and the Chapel is looking wonderful and ready to receive visitors again!

To find out more, or to see the fruits of our labour in the flesh, please come and visit us in the Pleasure Grounds at Clumber Park. The Chapel of Saint Mary the Virgin is open daily from 10:00. Services are held every Sunday from 11:30.