Resting Red House for the winter

View of Red House, Kent

It might be cold and quiet, but it’s a very busy time for the Red House team with projects to start, collection to be cleaned and remedial work to be done.

A poem of a house, Red House, Bexleyheath

Giving the house a rest

Closing over the winter gives the house a rest from being open. That might sound strange, but its good to have a period where there isn’t pressure on the floors, changing environments from the opening and closing of doors, or extended periods of light exposure. Unless we’re working in the rooms, they get blacked out with screens to reduce fading on furniture and paintings. Rugs are rolled up to protect the patterns, and the rate of wear to the floors slows from having little to no footfall. This ensures that the interior of Red House remains in a stable condition for longer.

The winter clean at Red House, Kent

The Deep Clean

Every week the Red House interior gets a good dose of preventive conservation in the form of dusting, vacuuming and regular checks of our environment. Over the winter we can do more to protect the house for the year ahead. We can get a mobile scaffold in to help us reach high ceilings that aren’t accessible through the year; our metal collection gets a coat of anti-rust protection; and every wooden floor gets waxed and buffed. We have a wonderful team of volunteers who lend a hand and work wonders in a small amount of time.

Open cupboards at Red House, Kent

Conservation Work

An empty house is also an opportunity to conduct some much-needed work that’s a little more invasive than our regular cleans. This year we are in the second stage of a project to replace the grouting between the tiles in the Pilgrim’s Passage floor, which over time has thinned and broken away. Since we can’t walk over this area for 6 weeks while the grouting sets properly, it would be impossible to do if we were open to visitors. We’ll also be visited by the National Trust Decorative Arts Studio (Knole Conservation Studio) for the day, who will be conducting a survey of our treasured furniture and advising on anything we need to do to take care of it further!

Vegetable Tart at Red House

Preparing for 2020

There’s plenty happening in the office too. Programming is being planned, events are organised and commercial offers are designed. By the time February rolls around we’ll be ready to open for another great year of visits at Red House.

The frosty garden at Red House, Kent

Seeds of Inspiration

This winter we also see the start of our Seeds of Inspiration project: the reimagining of one of the Red House ‘garden room’ designs by Philip Webb and William Morris. Constructed in harmony, Red House and its garden were one large piece of art. Stay connected with what we’re up to with our project tracker.

Seeds of Inspiration