Studio life

A clean house is a happy house

Last week we went to Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk to clean the damask wall hangings in the Cabinet room. In 1751 the room, which was originally a drawing room, was remodelled to accommodate the Italian pictures Willian Windham II had acquired on his Grand Tour. These still hang very much, as he originally planned.

The Cabinet Room at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk.
Cabinet Room at Felbrigg Hall ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

During our latest visit the room looked very different, having been completely stripped of its content. Prior to our arrival all the furniture had been taken out of the room, the carpet had been deep cleaned and all the paintings had been taken down. This meant scaffolding could be used to access all the walls.

Because cleaning the wall hangings involves so much other work, it is not a task that can be undertaken often. This meant a lot of dust had gathered on the damask and even mould had been at large behind the paintings (before conservation heating was installed).

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A wall gridded out before surface cleaning

After setting up and gearing up with the correct PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) like masks and gloves, the first wall was divided into 50x50cm squares to help with timing and give a better overview. Each square was surface cleaned with a vacuum cleaner for 2.5 minutes. This removed the dust and mould. Afterwards a slightly damp microfiber cloth was used to remove some of the staining left by the mould.

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House staff in action

Four days of cleaning has resulted in walls that are now clean, brighter and mould free. The next step will be to infill some of the damage that has been created by insects in the past, this work will take place in February.

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Area before surface cleaning
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Area after surface cleaning with mould and dust removed

To read more about the conservation work that is going on at Felbrigg Hall, click here.

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