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Our work at East Riddlesden Hall

A member of staff cleaning wood panelling with a soft brush inside the house at Dyffryn Gardens, South Glamorgan.
A staff member cleaning wood panelling with a soft brush | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Discover how staff, volunteers and specialist contractors work together at East Riddlesden Hall to carry out important conservation and cleaning throughout the year. Find out what it takes to keep the house and collection in excellent condition and preserved for future generations to enjoy too.

Shifting the dust

Throughout the year, members of the East Riddlesden Hall team squeeze behind furniture, climb up ladders and reach under beds to remove dust from all the nooks and crannies.

Dust builds up quickly in a house like East Riddlesden Hall and it can cause damage by general soiling or by speeding up chemical processes that lead to material breakdown. We always dust with a dry cloth or fine horsehair brush and we never use polish as this leaves a film on the surface of the object.

Every object in the collection gets personal attention and we check its condition against our care plan records to make sure that no damage has been done in the past year.

Caring for the floor

The wooden floors in the house suffer from wear and tear from the 38,000 pairs of shoes that tread the floorboards each year. We try to stop as much gravel and dirt from coming into the house as possible, by using coir mats at the entrance. Research has shown that we need to use 3 metres of this to catch all the dirt.

Every morning we dry mop the floors to remove dust and dirt from the previous day. Doing this in the morning allows for the dust to settle overnight. Each winter we apply traffic wax to the boards to keep them in great condition.

A volunteer cleaning part of the shell collection in the Long Gallery at Cragside, Northumberland.
Volunteers work hard to help care for the items in the collection | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Strengthening the ceilings

Over the years several cracks appeared in the ornate Jacobean plasterwork ceilings in the Dining Room and His Own Parlour. After four years of fundraising, we were able to commission a survey to establish the cause of the cracks. The results of the survey showed that work needed to be carried out to strengthen the ceilings.

This job was too specialised for us to manage alone, so we enlisted the help of Skillingtons, one of the UK's leading building conservation, repair, and restoration companies.

Preparing for the work

We lifted the floorboards in the bedrooms above the two ceilings to allow Skillingtons to access the ceilings below. Stainless steel straps were attached between the top of the plaster and the joist above to prevent further cracking.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

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