State Dressing Room – Conservation in Action

We’re very keen to share our conservation work with visitors, so that they can see the ‘behind the scenes’ work that we do to look after Nostell Priory and its collection. With this in mind, as part of our new ‘Conservation In Action’ programme, a lot of our conservation work is done in front of visitors so that they can have a look and ask questions when they see us around during their visit. Visitors especially like seeing us working along the main visitor route in the state rooms on the first floor, and moving from a room which is pristine to one which is chaotic with stepladders, vacuums, brushes, and lamps strewn about! This week is was the turn of the State Dressing Room, which was ready for a deep clean.

Angie talks to a family about the conservation work they are seeing

Julie vacuums the carpet with a special low suction vacuum cleaner

The State Dressing Room all messy with equipment everywhere

Nostell’s State Dressing Room was originally designed by James Paine as the main State Bedroom where the most important guests would stay. A four-poster bed was introduced to the room next door in the late nineteenth century, and what was the State Bedroom became known as the State Dressing Room. The wallpaper (see the photograph below) was supplied by Chippendale in 1771, and had a brightly coloured pattern of a multitude of birds in bright pinks, blues, and greens on a white background. It is now much faded.

We have to get into the smallest of spaces. I’m in between the State Dressing Room bed and the wall, in order the clean the dado rail in the alcove

Julie cleans the fireplace – let’s hope she isn’t sucked up, Mary Poppins-style!

The fireplace is quite intricately moulded, and has to be cleaned very thoroughly as fireplaces are where pests like to lurk

When cleaning the floorboards underneath the bed with a dolly mop there’s only one thing for it – get as low as possible!

View under the bed when cleaning

Dirt accumulated from one half of the floorboards underneath the State Dressing Room bed. We use removeable cloth heads for the mops, so that they can be washed easily. It took three of them for the floorboards to be completely cleaned!

The feet of the bed aren’t actually on the floor – there is a second set of feet behind them with castors on so that the bed can be rolled, rather than lifted as it extremely heavy!

The ‘Dome Bedstead Japan’d Green and Gold’ was specially designed for the room, and cost £54. It was made with ‘its feet posts as Near as posable together to give as much room as posable to pass by’. Chippendale did not supply the fabric, which may have been bought earlier by the 4th Baronet. The current material was made for the National Trust in 1982 after smoke from the fire which gutted the Breakfast Room damaged the existing Edwardian material.

Let there be light!

Drum roll… and we have a finished, clean State Dressing Room. Who knows which room we’ll be found in next?

Clean and tidy State Dressing Room – a job well done!



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