Tapestry Conservation

Tapestry conservation at Rufford Old Hall with conservation staff up a ladder and museum vacuum

The beautiful 17th century tapestries of wool and silk in the Ante Room bring to life beautiful landscapes. Many years ago they were highlighted with coloured thread which unfortunately through the ages has faded though you can still see some traces today.

Tapestries were not just pretty wall hangings created to decorate a room but they were practical and used to help keep out the cold and draughts in buildings much like Rufford Old Hall. They were also symbols of power and usually owned by the very rich due to the labour intensive process and expensive materials used. The larger and finer the collection, the wealthier and more powerful the owner would be.

Conservation

The Tapestries at Rufford Old Hall have begun a 4 year conservation cycle and the first to receive the magic treatment will be the Flemish Tapestries in the Ante Room in May 2018.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Bolton National Trust Association we have purchased some scaffolding which enables us to leave the tapestries hanging and in the safest position when cleaning them.

The House Team have received specialist training in the Care of Textiles and are keen to carry out the much needed conservation work on the tapestries.

Conservation staff cleaning tapestry with museum vacuum and grid area.
Conservation staff using ladder, grid and museum vacuum to clean tapestry
Conservation staff cleaning tapestry with museum vacuum and grid area.

A Museum Vacuum Cleaner is used for the work to ensure the delicate tapestries are not damaged. The Vacuum ensures that there is a continuous flow of air through the tapestry which means that dirt is loosened from the fibres and immediately drawn away to avoid the possibility of particles being moved around the tapestry.

Specialst tools used for conservation cleaning tapestries at Rufford Old Hall
Display of specialist tools used for conservation cleaning tapestries
Specialst tools used for conservation cleaning tapestries at Rufford Old Hall

Specialist tools

  • A pliable plastic net is used on top of the tapestry to protect any loose threads from being sucked into the vacuum cleaner.
  • Pink 100% cotton tape is used to make a grid on the tapestry. Cotton is used to ensure no impurities are transferred to the tapestry.
  • Metal pins with coloured tops are used attached the pink tape to the tapestry. The coloured tops make them stand out on the tapestry. New pins are used for each session to avoid any rust forming on them.
  • Soft white goat’s hair brush is used to brush the dirt from the tapestry into the vacuum. The brush is then cleaned in a solution of water and sensitive washing up liquid.

 With 60,000 visitors each year the bottom should be dirtier than then top. Come along and chat to the Conservation Team and find out the results.