So let’s catch up.
Opening weekend already seems like such a long time ago, it was so cold, and the run up to it had its usual amount of craziness. The cold weather had delayed building work and the application of the new lime render on the east wall. Lime render cannot be applied in temperatures below 5c otherwise it will not set properly. This in turn delayed the removal of internal dust protection in most of the first half of the house.
With the timetable of work somewhat out of everybody’s control due to the Siberian winter the UK was experiencing, finishing the winter clean and reinstating the show rooms affected by the building work proved to be a bit of challenging time. The Conservation Team as always pulled out all the stops to get everything ready on time.
Other jobs we had to do before we opened was find somewhere to temporarily store the two tapestries from Lady Betty’s Bedroom, that had been taken down for the building work. The tapestries are rolled on 4.5metre long tubes, so there aren’t many areas that presented themselves as suitable places to put them. We settled with under the refectory table into he Great Hall.
Lady Betty’s Bedroom tapestries temporarily stored under the Great Hall table.
The beautiful Imari dish that has lived at the top of the Lead Stairs for many years has now been moved to the China Closet as part of the re-display of the space back to a historic inventory.
The Imari dish now on display in Lady Betty’s China Closet.
One of the nicest jobs to do to prepare for opening is starting up the clocks again. Once the clocks and ticking and chiming again it feels like the house is brought back to life ready for the new season. Thankfully they all behaved themselves and we didn’t have any problems in restarting them.
A key to wind each clock, the biggest key is for the smallest clock!
Each clock has its own record of when it is wound.
Museum of London Archaeology’s Geomatics team have been at Knole for several weeks now. They are undertaking a measured survey of the showrooms and new spaces we’ll be opening to visitors to provide, for the first time, accurate floor plans of the rooms. They will also be photographing the spaces and combining this information with survey information to provide elevation and ceiling plans so that we will have a three-dimensional picture.
Neville and Catherine from MOLA surveying at the top of the Lead Stairs.
This information will be used by architects, Rodney Melville Partnership, as part of the design process for the Inspired by Knole project and will also help us to identify key locations within the building (under the floorboards and behind the panelling) which we want to investigate further as part of the archaeological programme – to help us to better understand the origins and developments of the different parts of the building complex.
Some of MOLAs kit, Total Station (basically an electronic theodolite).
We have some brilliant new interpretation in the Venetian Ambassadors Bedroom, and most exciting of all, the conserved headboard of the James II Bed on display! The room has four boxes of parts of the bed that have returned from the Textile Studio. We won’t be reconstructing the bed until after the Inspired by Knole project, the less the parts of the bed are handled the less likely it is that any physical damage will occur to this historically important state bed.
How the Venetian Ambassadors Bedroom looks this season, complete with the conserved headboard on display.
And finally…introducing our new seasonal Conservation and Engagement Assistant Zena.
Now we are settling in to the open season cleaning routine, which is differeent for us this year as the house is open 6 days a week, meaning less cleaning time. Therefore we have ad to re-jig our cleaning programmes and think about how best to use the time we do have and what the priority areas in the house are. We also have an extra room to care for, the newly opened Estate Office, which is home to Knole’s oral history project.
The new and interactive Estate Office
Lucy, Emily, Melinda, Sarah and Zena