Tapestries go on conservation journey

Dyrham Park tapestries

Some of the National Trust’s rarest 17th century tapestries are going overseas from Dyrham Park for specialist cleaning and repairs.

Two of the five large Enghien tapestries are being treated thanks to almost £143,000 in legacies left to the charity.

The Flemish tapestries, woven with wool and silk, are normally on show on the walls of the Tapestry Bedchamber, thought to have been intended for founder William Blathwayt. Tapestries were a status symbol of wealth as well as keeping rooms warm and being easy to transport.

Depicting the fountains and parterres of the famous gardens at Enghien near Brussels, they have suffered damage over the years from old repairs as well as normal ageing.

Conservation journey

The tapestries will go to the National Trust Textile Conservation Studio in Norfolk, then De Wit, Mechelen in Belgium to undergo specialist cleaning. At De Wit they use a water mist to clean the tapestries which suits the delicate nature of the Dyrham set. The tapestries will then go back to Norfolk for conservation work and are due back at Dyrham Park in the summer of 2020.

‘Over the past decade the adhesives applied in the 1980’s combined with constant changes of relative humidity in the room have led to the tapestries cracking and splitting,’ said Eilidh Auckland, House and Collections Manager.  ‘As many repairs as possible will be carried out and once complete and back on show at Dyrham they will appear more cohesive while also being protected for the future.’

Visitors can still see the remaining three tapestries in the bedchamber and plans are afoot for weaving workshops, demonstrations, talks and information boards.