Dunham Massey Chairs

These are three chairs from a set of ten from the Green Saloon at Dunham Massey.

The chairs are upholstered in a rust / cinnamon coloured silk voided velvet which has deteriorated over the years. The chairs came to us very dusty and dirty with pile on the velvet missing and holes in the silk fabric.

Images of deterioration from chairs – pre conservation.

Our task with these chairs includes:

  • vacuum the surfaces with a conservation vac
  • support holes with a purpose dyed silk crepeline
  • for large areas of damage patch with an adhesive treated dyed silk fabric
  • make safe the damaged areas
  • support the braids
  • protect with a layer of dyed net
Chairs after conservation
Chairs after conservation

Conservation treatment

Within the three months of May, June and July 2012 the conservation treatment of three fully upholstered Queen Anne chairs from Dunham Massey was undertaken.

The main objective to the treatment of these chairs was to clean, stabilise and support the fragile, brittle and damaged silk velvet covers and decorative trims.

After unpacking and undertaking an initial assessment of condition and damage, the chairs were given a vacuum to remove the dust and dirt from upon the surfaces.


In areas of the silk velvet where losses had occurred, a purpose dyed silk fabric treated with a conservation adhesive which could be heat activated, was inserted behind the damage to provide long term support, stability and an aesthetic infill to the silk

Dyed net was then stitch secured over the surfaces of the chair to provide protection and help preserve the fragmenting fabric

The net also allows any damage or fading to the silk velvet to be ‘knocked back’ visually to provide an aesthetically pleasing result.

The key to the success of the treatment was to match the dyed colour of the silk support fabric and nylon net to the tone of the original silk velvet.

Bulk dying support silk

It was also important to use a conservation adhesive which would provide the most desirable properties. In this case a fine flexible clear film of acrylic adhesive was used.

In addition to the adhesive patch support, stitching was undertaken to provide support to weak areas of the decorative gimp trim which was the reattached to the chair. Loose tassels around the seat rail were reattached to the decorative gimp.