Belton House has been enjoying a winter spruce up as part of its yearly conservation clean.
Once the Grade I listed house closes its doors in October, it is all hands on deck as staff and a team of volunteers work tirelessly to get the house ready to reopen to the public at the beginning of March.
But it is not just your average cleaning job.
Staff have to work from top to bottom to gently brush dust into a vacuum, working over all surfaces including decorative cornice and ceilings, delicate wood carvings and each of the collections.
All of this is meticulously monitored and recorded and added to the room folders that form a ‘House Manual’. Each piece of furniture has to be inspected and recorded and every item in a collection has its own care plan.
Property conservation manager David Fitzer said: “The closed season also allows more intrusive work to be carried out, such as work to maintain the building interiors, which otherwise would be very difficult to undertake while the house is open to the public. Any of the objects that require more extensive work are either sent away to external conservators or those conservators are brought to the property to carry out in-situ work. This can be to paintings, furniture, ceramics, books or even the silver. We may also use this time to consult with outside experts on the display of collections or indeed the rooms themselves.”
After a few repairs, the red velvet curtains in the Tyrconnel room were hung back up last week.
House and collections manager Catherine Granger added: “Part of the process of caring for our collection is maintaining the environment within the house. To do that we have what is called conservation heating. Unlike the heating that everyone has at home, ours is there to dry up humidity which can cause moulds to grow, encourage insects that eat furniture and books as well as damaging wooden furniture. We have sensors all over the house, and as soon as the humidity goes up, the heating comes on. Unfortunately, this does mean that on a hot July day after heavy rain, the heating comes on and on cold frosty days, the heating stays off, which is why the house team wear lots of thermals throughout the winter.”
This year, visitors will need to book a timed entry ticket to access the house which will require them to enter the house at their selected time, but allows them to stay in the house for as long as they wish. The timed tickets have been introduced for the benefit of conservation, to enable more collections to go on display and to enhance the visitor experience.
The house reopens on Saturday March 3 and will be open every Wednesday to Sunday until October 28.