Looking after Lacock Abbey over winter

Over winter, many of the rooms in the Abbey are closed to give Lacock's hardworking house team a chance to get stuck into the winter conservation deep clean. The age of the Abbey and the size of its collection means that this is no easy task…

All those high ceilings 

Some can be reached with the help of Dirty Gertie, the trusty telescopic duster, but in the South Gallery, for example, the house team erect scaffolding to get to those hard-to-reach places or delicate objects such as chandeliers. They systematically move around the edges of the room, inspecting the ceiling, cornices and walls for damage or movement, and dusting the high-level objects (paintings, book cases, curtain poles) as they go. 

Carefully cleaning the South Gallery at Lacock Abbey
Conservation Assistants at Lacock working on a scaffold tower
Carefully cleaning the South Gallery at Lacock Abbey

Dust, dust and more dust

A place like Lacock Abbey is paradise for dust. As well as its age, there’s the dust from the visitors who daily pass through its rooms (including lots of lovely skin cells) – all of which collects in the little nooks and crannies and awkward places around the Abbey.

Every day, the house team tackle dust, but during the winter clean they have a chance to get to the high-level objects with scaffolding, and time to do a really thorough clean of anything that is a real dust-trap. Some items, such as ceramics and glass, need a bit more attention, and get a wet clean after being dusted.

But dust doesn’t just look bad – dust scratches surfaces, increases the chance of mould growth, promotes insect damage (bugs love to eat dust!), and will chemically stick to the object forever if it is not gently removed on a regular basis. 

Carefully cleaning 'Peace and the Arts' by Cornelis van Haarlam in the Dining Room of Lacock Abbey
A Conservation Assistant at Lacock Abbey standing on a ladder and using a brush and vacuum cleaner to clean the frame of a painting
Carefully cleaning 'Peace and the Arts' by Cornelis van Haarlam in the Dining Room of Lacock Abbey

The fabric of life

If you laid out every carpet, curtain and tapestry from Lacock Abbey in its garden, you’d probably not have much grass around the edges to walk on! Textile cleaning is a big job at Lacock. During the winter clean, items like the tapestry fire surround in the South Gallery and the Dining Room carpet get a chance to have a real deep clean – including cleaning the complete underside of the carpet.

Learn more about Lacock's history