Furniture, James II, Knole, State bed, Studio life

The return of the illusive orange caterpillars!

These caterpillars have been visiting the Studio on and off for the last fourteen years. They range in size and length but are always accompanied by a luxurious green ground and leave an orange trail wherever they go.

They are in fact the silk trimmings from the James II Bed from Knole. The trimmings have a silk woven braid base, wrapped wire detailing with twists of linen and silk and silk tassels.

Knole ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel
James II bed

Currently the last pieces of trimmings from the bed are being conserved. These are from the tester which is the top part of the four poster state bed.
It will then be ready to be reinstated at Knole next year when the remaining parts of the bed have been conserved.

Inside of tester

Each detail of the trimming is vacuumed and, as the woven silk braid is very fragile, needs supporting. This is done by sewing a dyed cotton tape to the reverse of the trimming. Any repairs or breaks in the trim are treated at this point using the new dyed cotton tape to stitch into. Also any weak or detached tassels are re-attached using a silk thread.

Vacuuming the trimmings


Half vacuumed – half before vacuum cleaning


Reverse with new tape


Trimmings after conservation


This bed, with its rich contrasting orange and green colours and ornate gilding, will really be worth a visit once reinstated.

Eleanor Codman
Conservation Assistant


To read more about the conservation treatment of the James II bed, click here.


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