Winter cleaning at East Riddlesden Hall

A painting being carefully wrapped to go offsite for conservation.

During the quieter winter months at East Riddlesden Hall Jackie our house steward and her team of volunteers are kept busy with important conservation work and cleaning. This makes sure that the house and collection are in excellent condition year round and are looked after for future generations to enjoy too.

Shifting the dust

From November to the beginning of February the team squeeze behind furniture, climb up ladders and reach under beds to remove dust from all the nooks and crannies. Dust builds up quickly in a house like East Riddlesden Hall and it can cause damage by general soiling or by speeding up chemical processes that lead to material breakdown.
We always dry dust with a cloth or fine horsehair brush, and never use polish as this leaves a film on the surface of the object.


Every object in the collection gets personal attention and we check its condition against our care plan records to make sure that no damage has been done over the year.

Dusting is a slow but rewarding task for the conservation team.
Membe of staff cleaning wooden carving on a panel with a fine brush
Dusting is a slow but rewarding task for the conservation team.

Caring for the floor

The wooden floors in the house suffer from wear and tear from the 38,000 pairs of shoes that tread the floorboards each year. We try to stop as much gravel and dirt from coming into the house by using coir mats at the entrance, and research has shown that we need to use three meters of this to catch all the dirt.

Every morning we dry mop the floors to remove dust and dirt from the previous day, doing this in a morning allows for the dust to settle overnight. Each winter we apply traffic wax to the boards to keep them in a great condition.

Outside help

Some jobs are too specialised for us to manage alone, so external companies are brought in to help.

This year we’ve been joined by Skillingtons, one of the UK's leading building conservation, repair, and restoration companies. They’re currently completing a survey of the ornate Jacobean plasterwork ceilings in the Dining Room and His Own Parlour. This is because there are a number of cracks in the ceiling and we need to find out what’s causing them and carry out work to prevent more from appearing.

Floorboards in the bedrooms above the two ceilings have been lifted to allow Skillingtons to check for damage.  They’ll produce a report to tell us what work need to be done to repair the cracks and prevent more damage.

Specialist work doesn’t come cheap and it’s taken us four years of fundraising to be able to commission this report. We’d like to thank our visitors and members for their ongoing and generous support; every visit to East Riddlesden Hall and every purchase made in the shop and tea-room allows us to pay for essential work like this.

Lifting the floorboards allows the specialists to take a closer look at what work may needed
A man carefully checking under floorboards to see the condition of the plaster on the roof below
Lifting the floorboards allows the specialists to take a closer look at what work may needed

Making repairs

Winter is a good time for us to make repairs where things have gone wrong or been damaged.

This year the seventeenth century crewel work that can normally be seen hung beside the bed in the Green Room has been sent away for repair work.  Local textile conservator, Kate Stockdale, will carefully clean, repair and re-back the intricate wall hanging and we hope to have it back in its place next year.

Did you know that we’d normally have to sell 3,000 scones in the tea-room to pay for this work? We’re very grateful that the cost of repairing the crewel work has been raised through raffle ticket sales, thank you to everyone who has supported the property raffle this year and bought a ticket – every ticket has made a difference.

This seventeenth century Crewel work will be back in pride of place in 2018
A seventeenth century textile wall hanging showing signs of wear and tear
This seventeenth century Crewel work will be back in pride of place in 2018


To take a closer look at the house in its winter conservation phase, please join us this weekend for the last of our guided tours before the house closes for the season. The tours last for 45 minutes and are at 11am and 1pm on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 November.

Tours are free, general admission prices apply - free entry for National Trust members.