As soon as the House closes to the public each year, a team of volunteers and specialists start on the conservation programme taking them through the winter.
Once the pictures, ceramics and painted furniture are cleaned and stored, the team move onto the textiles. The edges of the curtains for instance suffer from light exposure.
The curtains in Clive Bell’s bedroom (above) are being carefully stitched with very fine netting to make them stronger and safer. They are then laid over the bed covered in acid free tissue to rest for the winter.
Even the fabrics around lampshades need repairing and careful cleaning. Despite our best efforts, the nature of the outside of the building creeps in during the summer, with a number of insects ready to find a warm place to breed. The Collection is inspected annually and any interlopers dealt with!
Rugs and carpets are also carefully vacuumed through protective gauze and repaired where necessary. They are then layered with acid free tissue, rolled top side out on large acid free tissue covered tubes (which opens the weave allowing more dust to escape) and finally covered in a dustsheet.
Bedspreads, French cotton squares and cushions are also carefully cleaned and mended where needed, then covered in acid free tissue paper and stored for the winter.
The hours that the team spend over the winter soon adds up, some 450 hours a year are donated by our volunteers maintaining the contents in a suitable condition.
This winter there will also be additional work done on the repair of Clive Bell’s study – the ceiling of which needs attention – we’ll keep you informed of the progress of this over the coming weeks.
For the inside track on what it was like to join this team of volunteers – see our Curatorial interns blog from the Charleston Attic.
Don’t forget that nearly all of this work is done by our specialist teams and volunteers, who dust, clean and mend. Please support the Charleston Annual Fund in anyway you can which helps us continue this work and maintain many of the smaller items in the House which can be tricky to get individual funding to support – Find out how you can donate here
Part 1 of this series can be viewed here