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 reconstruction.
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.