2. Spangled bed discoveries

Following on from our previous blog post about the conservation work we are undertaking on the curtains from the Spangled bed in Knole. Here is another update on some of the work that has been completed:

By April 2014 the coarse red net had been removed from the back of both curtains, previous stitch repairs had been removed and the curtains had been carefully deconstructed into their lining and crimson silk satin.

Removing the linings was a slow process due to their fragmentary nature and ‘crisp’ handle, and several areas required netting and tracings taken prior to removal.

This has revealed several fascinating finds. The curtains have been patched with six different types of damask patches, a linen patch and a plain silk patch. All of the patches appear to have had former uses. There is evidence of seams, lockstitches and darning repairs which are unrelated to areas in the curtain.


Proper Left Foot curtain – (viewed with the top of the curtain at the bottom of the page) showing seven types of different patches.

The position of the patches at the top of the curtains suggests that the curtains have been turned around with the patched damage having been originally at the hem.  This is confirmed by the discovery of previous ring attachments at the bottom of the curtain, above the lower border. These would have been the original ring fixing points used to hang the curtains, and they may also be the original ring fixing from a previous use, thought to have been wall hangings (see image below, the white squares indicating ring attachment points).


There are several types and styles of seams throughout both curtains, including machine stitching, indicating there are several periods of repair and reconstruIMG_1490ction.

Another yellow damask, of a different design to that used for patching the foot curtain, was also found at the heading of the head curtain as pieces, and attached to the right side lining panel as a narrow strip finishing as a wider panel at the hem.  It suggests that the yellow damask was originally a full length panel seamed to the two colour damask lining and was cut away during a later period of repair and reconstruction.

The next stage of treatment is to construct a humidity chamber to relax the curtains and linings before wet cleaning is carried out following further tests.

Find out more about the Spangled bed from our National Trust Collections online.

Comings and goings

IMG_6325Earlier this year, after 25 years of combining her roles as Studio Manager and Textile Adviser, Ksynia decided to hand over the day to day running of the Studio. Under Ksynia’s leadership the Studio has grown from a staff of four to thirteen including an intern and contract staff and moved from rooms above Blickling shop to a specially converted barn on the estate. Ksynia’s career-long commitment to training conservators has seen sixteen interns and numerous students on work placements pass through the Studio doors. The Studio staff are proud and delighted that she was awarded the Plowden Medal last month in recognition of her efforts and achievements. (See previous blog post).

However we are still able to draw on Ksynia’s vast knowledge and experience as she continues with her role as the National Trust Textile Conservation Adviser.

DSCF8554As of 1st June we welcomed Maria Jordan as our new Studio Manager, bringing with her valuable experience from the worlds of finance and heritage.

Maria Jordan_2013

After an initial career in finance, Maria retrained at the Textile Conservation Centre and graduated with a PGDip in Textile Conservation from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2000. Following her training, Maria worked for Historic Royal Palaces for 16 years, in their textile conservation studio based at Hampton Court Palace, where she supervised and managed the conservation of tapestries, furnishing textiles and costume.

Welcome to the team!

Plowden Medal winner – Ksynia Marko

We are delighted to let you know that Ksynia Marko our Textile Conservation Advisor has been awarded by the Royal Warrant Holders Association the prestigious Plowden Medal 2016 for her outstanding contribution to Britain’s cultural heritage. You can read more about the award  here.

250-year-old tapestries are checked for pests at Osterley Park

250-year-old tapestries at Osterley are checked for pests by textile conservation advisor, Ksynia Marko, from Norfolk. Photo © Johnny Green/PA Wire

1. Spangled bed, Knole Kent.

Since late 2013 we have been working on the bed curtains from the Spangled bed from Knole in Kent. This series of posts will update you on the work we have done to date.

This beautiful bed, which is covered in delicate gold and silver spangles, has been a voyage of discovery it is thought to date from the 1620’s and appears to have been commissioned by Lionel Cranfield in about 1621 and eventually arrived at Knole through the marriage of his daughter Frances to the Earl of Dorset.

25556It is important to become familiar with an object before embarking on treatment and the team has taken time to think through the various processes, weighing up what can and cannot be done.

Curtains showing glimpses of damage before the conservation process

IMG_9984conv aHead curtain detail showing original colour and spangles beneath the net covering on a side border. The border fabric matches that of the bed coverlet and headcloth and is a different design to the vertical appliqué panels of the rst of the curtain and the foot curtain.

Detailed documentation of the make up of each curtain, the materials, fabrics and stitching patterns found will mean that their original apprearence is becoming better understood. Careful examination is revealing the complexity of the structure of the curtains which, in conjunction with research on their history before they came into the possesion of the Sackvill family, may help provide a clearer understanding of their original use.


Coarse red net encases the curtains and work started in early 2014 to unpick this net and the stitch repairs which have been worked through all the layers. The linings are extremely fragile and are very rare early damask which has been dated to between 1585 and 1610. The initial plan was to remove the lining, wet clean them and mount them onto support fabric whilst further test are undertaken on the satin silk.

Conservators removing the heavy net layer (left) and the fragile and splitting damsk lining of the head curtain (right)


The Balfour of Burleigh Tercentenary Prizes for Exceptional Achievement in Crafts. In 2015 The Radcliffe Trust commemorated the 300th anniversary of its establishment by Dr John Radcliffe of Oxford. To celebrate the event it asked organisations that it supports for nominations of individuals that demonstrated excellence in a particular field. The National Trust nominated two members of staff, Trevor Hardy, Master Mason at Hardwick Hall, and Ksynia Marko the textile studio manager. Both Trevor and Ksynia received certificates as recognition of their work and to mark their nomination.

The list of nominees and special prize winners as well as pictures of the celebratory dinner are available on the Radcliffe Trust website at: www.theradcliffetrust.org/events/


National Trust Magazine The Spring edition, out now, features an interview with Ksynia in which she describes her own training and some of the work being undertaken at the studio. ‘Much remains to be done to preserve our rich textile heritage, from humble lampshades to huge carpets, and we would like to thank all those who continue to support our work.’


 ‘Our Norfolk’ is an impartial online guide…
designed to help you make the most of our county.
See the textile conservation studio featured under The Arts category;



Nor-folk – See some of our staff featured in the ‘rogues’ gallery featured on this independent web site. Some wonderful portraits of working people taken by professional photographer Hal Shinnie, who spent a day at the studio trying to make us all look beautiful and interesting – thanks to his patience and expertise he had some success!


Other local news

The North Norfolk Post December issue featured an article on the revival of historic looms, part of the Living Looms Project based in Stourport, enabling a replica carpet to be made for the library at Felbrigg Hall. The original dates from around 1830. The new carpet was installed just before Christmas so you will be able to see it when the house opens on the 27th February.


Felbrigg will host an exhibition of needlework cushions inspired by the collection and made by the Eastern Region Embroiderers Guild members. Visit this lovely property and see the exhibition which runs 30th April – 29th June.



Green champions celebrated at Environmental Awards

We had a lovely evening at the National Trust’s East of England’s Environmental award having been nominated in the Waste-not Category.
The Studio recycles 88% of it’s waste through our waste contractor Biffa as well as composing our kitchen waste.
Sadly we lost out to the very deserving Peckover House.
It was good to see how our properties in the East of England are striving to reach our environmental targets, sometimes in very creative ways.
Read more news from the awards in this post from the National Trust East of England.

National Trust in the East

From reducing energy use and saving water to planning for a green future, work by National Trust teams to help create a greener region has been celebrated at an awards ceremony last night.


With winners coming from Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, the East of England Environmental Awards saw muddy boots, kitchen uniforms and blustery coastlines swapped for suits and evening wear for the ceremony at Anglesey Abbey, near Cambridge.

National Trust teams from around the East were competing for prizes in ten categories, including Green Kitchen, Wise Use of Water, Holiday Cottage Hero, Best Energy Reduction and Green Team of the Year.


As the largest conservation charity in Europe, the National Trust is committed to reducing its energy consumption by 20% by 2020. Of the remaining 80%, half will be from renewable energy sources.

Speaking after the ceremony, the Trust’s Environmental Practices Adviser for the East of England…

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