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Winter conservation at Wordsworth House and Garden

A team of three people roll a large carpet for storage ahead of cleaning.
Rolling the carpets to relax the fibres ahead of cleaning | © Anna Place

When the doors of Wordsworth House and Garden close for the season, there is a flurry of activity which can sometimes go unnoticed as both staff and volunteers make sure all is cared for and refreshed before the spring. Find out about the important conservation work that goes on behind the scenes.

Checking and cleaning

During the seasonal closure, our House and Collections Officer Rachel leads her team in a top to toe clean of the museum collection while undertaking inventory work. Meanwhile, specialist conservators tackle building work to ensure the property is well-maintained for our visitors in the spring. This way, both the building itself and all its contents are well looked after.

Wordsworth House and Garden is a grade 1 listed building, so ensuring that the property is properly cared for is a key part of the work done by the dedicated team of staff and volunteers. Everyone needs to wrap up warm as the conservation heating is set to ensure the optimum conditions for objects, not people, so multiple layers and woolly socks are the order of the day.

A volunteer works in the garden at Wordsworth House, lightly pruning roses ahead of winter to prevent windrock.
Volunteer lightly pruning roses to help prevent windrock | © Anna Place

Putting the garden to bed for winter

Once our doors close in November, our Head Gardener Amanda and her dedicated team of volunteers brave the weather and are hard at work with messy and labour-intensive jobs like pruning and cutting back, planting, and maintaining paths. The garden paths are quite narrow so to ensure all areas are accessible to visitors during the open season, the team wait until the winter months to carry out these more space intensive tasks.

While the crew do a little bit of tidying to put the garden to bed for winter, they are mindful of the wildlife that shares the garden. Piles of brush are left for overwintering insects and small mammals and left over apples provide a much-needed feast over the colder months. In February, volunteers will return to start getting things ready to welcome visitors in the spring.

A volunteer sorts through boxes of donated books in the secondhand bookshop at Wordsworth House in Cockermouth
Sorting through donations in the second-hand bookshop at Wordsworth House | © Anna Place

Checking and sorting in our second-hand bookshop

Great care is taken to protect our stock of second-hand books and look after your kind donations over winter. Books are carefully checked and sorted before being boxed up and moved to a warmer, elevated space to provide protection against damp and possible floods.

In the new year, books are taken out of storage, shelves are stocked, and displays are themed ready for browsing when the doors reopen in the spring.

Take a look behind the scenes

Find out more about what goes on behind closed doors.

A member of staff lays a large sheet of tissue over a rolled and suspended carpet in the drawing room at Wordsworth House, Cockermouth
Protecting the rolled and suspended carpet in the Drawing Room at Wordsworth House | © Anna Place

Preparing for a spring clean

Carpets are rolled and suspended to relax the fibres ahead of cleaning in the new year when they are turned upside down and beaten to remove grains of dirt. While the carpets in the house are modern reproductions, they still require a great deal of care to keep them in good condition and looking smart for visitors.

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How to get involved

Volunteers play a big role in making sure that Wordsworth House and Garden is beautifully cared for throughout the year. Click here to search for live volunteering opportunities, or to register your interest with Wordsworth House and Garden.

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