Diary of a House Elf: Winter Cleaning at Charlecote and Dust busting at Anglesey Abbey

As you will no doubt be aware if you’ve been reading this blog for a while or visiting National Trust places, winter is a time where our house elves are incredibly busy. The doors to our grand house may be closed but inside it is a hive of activity. But what is going on?

Winter is the time we ‘put the house to bed’, carrying out conservation tasks and checking inventories. Our House Elves have been building scaffolding and moving it round the house. All this for the simplest of jobs such as taking nets down to wash!

2013.11_Scaffold on stairs_with logo

Our conservation room turned into a laundry this week when the nets from the staircase were washed and ironed.

The House Elves hide out: the conservation-come-laundry room

The House Elves hide out: the conservation-come-laundry room

We came across this post from our colleagues at Anglesey Abbey and thought it might be of interest to you too…

Most of us are familiar with running a duster round the shelves and giving the carpet a quick vacuum – but how do you look after a 40 room house, packed with precious artefacts, which welcomes over 80,000 visitors through its doors every year?

Here at the National Trust, we face many challenges when it comes to cleaning our houses, but the types of challenges are not so different from yours or mine at home – they’re just on a slightly larger scale!

Take Anglesey Abbey for example, the former home of the 1st Lord Fairhaven, where the house conservation team (made up of staff and volunteers) spend a busy few months during the winter, inspecting and cleaning everything from floor to ceiling.

We use the winter months as an opportunity to check each item for signs of damage and record anything we find so it can continue to be monitored.

At the same time we’re busy cleaning items – the aim, to stop dust collecting. Dust can be abrasive, acidic or alkaline. It is also hydroscopic (attracts and holds moisture) and harbours and feeds pests, hence why we try so hard to stop it gathering. And it’s no easy task, last year we vacuumed up over 2000lbs of dust at Anglesey Abbey!

Read more < Dust busting at Anglesey Abbey >

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