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, and need the help of external companies.

This year we’ve been joined by Skillingtons, one of the UK's leading building conservation, repair, and restoration companies. Over the years a number of cracks have appeared in the ornate Jacobean plasterwork ceilings in the Dining Room and His Own Parlour. A survey showed that work needed to be carried out to strengthen the ceilings.

Floorboards in the bedrooms above the two ceilings have been lifted to allow Skillingtons to access the ceilings below. Stainless steel straps will be attached between the top of the plaster and the joist above to prevent further cracking.

Specialist work doesn’t come cheap and it took us four years of fundraising to be able to commission the survey alone. 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

To take a closer look at the house in its winter conservation phase, please join us for a behind the scenes tour. The tours last for 25 minutes and are at 11am, 1pm and 2pm every weekend in November.

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