Woodworm Hunters

Now is around the time of year when pests start emerging and flying around once they have hatched and eaten through the wood that eggs were laid. This means that we are extra vigilant when opening and closing the house for any insects that we may see, so that we can identify problem areas.

Recently, we have noticed woodworm lurking in the state bathrooms. This meant an investigation was needed! We didn’t want any infestation (if there was one) to spread to any more of the state rooms.

Woodworm that we collected earlier

Woodworm is the universally known name for the Common Furniture Beetle. People know that woodworm are around and in their houses when they see the familiar woodworm holes (see the photo below).

Woodworm holes

Woodworm can also be known as bookworm (in addition to other paper boring insects), as seen in one of Nostell’s library books, above.

Holes can be present when the woodworm are active or whether the woodworm are not there any more. The way that we can tell is by seeing if there is any frass around the holes. Frass is the sawdust that is the by-product of the beetles chewing their way through wood.

If you look carefully you can see the small piles of frass which indicate the presence of active furniture beetles.

Today we were checking underneath the bath in the State Bathroom for signs of the pesky insect.

Underneath the bath – it has been a long time since anybody looked under here, if the dust is anything to go by!

And it’s not surprising why, as the sides of the bath are solid marble and had to be taken off professionally!

We found what looked like frass and a few dead furniture beetles. However it seemed as though the beetles we had found were coming through the floorboards elsewhere in the room. Further investigation will be needed, and possible professional conservators brought in.

Just to be sure, we treated the area to ensure that no woodworm would emerge from the areas where we found the dead beetles.

Another interesting task encountered by the conservation team at Nostell Priory, and indeed National Trust properties all over Great Britain!



Spotlight on: Toilets!

It’s not only the glamorous state rooms and impressive entrance halls which have to be cleaned and cared for at Nostell, as we have to do the toilets too! On the main visitor route through Nostell two bathrooms are entered – the Crimson bathroom and the State bathroom (so named because they are joined to the Crimson Bedroom and State Dressing Room respectively). The bathrooms were the focus of today’s winter clean, and are also the focus of today’s spotlight post!

We use the same set of equipment for the bathroom suites as we do for the other rooms – vacuum, pony hair and hogs hair brushes, white gloves, and record sheets. If anything, the bathrooms are some of the most important rooms to clean, because their white colour means that they show up the dust a lot!

Even the toilet bucket needs cleaning! There was some damage to the wicker handle which was recorded on the form, so that we can keep an eye on it and move the location of the bucket if necessary.

Just like some of Nostell’s grander furniture, the items in the bathrooms (for example towel racks and chairs) also have specially made dust covers.

The gilding on the fireplace is carefully brush vacuumed, with a soft pony hair brush.

Angie gets to grips with one of Nostell’s many toilets – it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

This is a similar-ish toilet to Nostell’s, but this one is in Blickling Hall in Norfolk, where some of the housekeeping team were sent away to get training on different aspects of conservation. Our training course will feature in some upcoming blog posts, so that you can see how we learn to care for the National Trust’s fantastic properties!

You’ll be relieved (sorry!) to know we’ve finished with the bathrooms now, and will be moving on to other rooms in the mansion. We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing work in one of the more unusual rooms of the house!


UPCOMING HIGHLIGHTS ON THE BLOG: posts on how housekeeping and conservation staff within the National Trust are trained to care for historic objects and buildings, secrets inside some of the furniture, and much more… As ever, if you have any particular requests for what you’d like to see, get in touch!