Tucking Penrhyn Castle up for the winter

Once a year the time arrives for us at Penrhyn Castle to 'put the house to bed'. Around the beginning of December, everything changes in the house.

What does this mean?

"Putting the house to bed" is what we do at the end of the open season to care for the collection and make sure it's cleaned and ready for the next season. So over the winter, we work through each showroom in the house, dusting and polishing the fixtures, fittings and contents as we go. Once each item is cleaned, we cover them to protect from dust over the winter months.

Where do we start?

Generally we start at the top of the house and with high-level work above the picture rails. The whole room is dusted downwards so we can catch any dust that falls as we work. Once at ground level, we clean each object in the room before wrapping it in acid-free tissue paper or covering it with specially made cotton covers. We then make our way through all the showrooms.

One of the big jobs for the team this year is to clean the grease and dirt from the stone staircase. This is due to thousands of hands running along the balustrade over the years.The difference in colour before and after cleaning is quite remarkable.

Before and after cleaning of the back stairs at Penrhyn Castle
Before and after cleaning of the back stairs at Penrhyn Castle

What do we use to clean?

We use a variety of different vacuum cleaners, dusters and brushes to remove the dust, as well as specialist polishes and natural waxes on our metals and wood.

How many rooms do we have to clean?

We have 32 different showroom areas that we need to work through, and more than 8,000 objects. This year, we are prioritising some rooms to allow time to complete our painting cleaning project in the breakfast room and dining room.

The conservation team clean the detailed woodwork.
The conservation team clean the detailed woodwork.