One of the most striking rooms inside Nostell is the Muniments Room. It was the main hub of the house and would be where the Estate Steward would have controlled the papers and documents that organised the running of the house and wider estate. ‘Muniments’ could be anything like maps, wage slips, receipts, notebooks, and archives of the Nostell estate. Nostell’s Muniments Room is noteworthy because of the surviving interior fittings and cupboards, which were made specially for the room.
Today it was time to give the Muniments Room a good clean and sort out, in order to open up the room to visitors. Previously, the room had been a ‘holding space’ for some furniture that is now in the Breakfast Room. Now the furniture is out and we looked forward to visitors being able to come into this room. It’s often the more functional rooms that servants would have used that people are interested in.
Drawers in the Muniments Room cupboards
When we began the winter clean for this room, we found mould growth in most of the drawers. We left them out on the floor for a few months to thoroughly dry out all of the mould to enable us to remove it. Dry, inactive mould is much easier to remove than moist, active mould.
Preparing the work space
We start by cleaning off the more obvious marks of dirt and substances that are in the cupboards
Occasionally we have birds which fly down the chimney and into the Muniments Room, like this jackdaw! We caught it with a combination of sheets and a basket, before letting it free into the parkland. We are looking into putting caps on the chimney to stop the birds inadvertantly coming in. We had two jackdaws in as many days!
An unfortunate addition to birds flying around in the Muniments Room…
…which is carefully wiped off with warm water. Some people have all the difficult jobs, sorry Angie!
Lots of debris had come down the fireplace and needed to be vacuumed up.
The drawers were put back in after we had taken off the mould growths.
One of the most beautiful cupboards lies behind this door. It’s behind the door to keep the room looking symmetrical, as there is a door at the opposite side of the room. Nostell was designed to be a symmetrical house.
Original labels survive on some of the shelf compartments…
…including some which are in French! These could date from when Sabine lived in the house (the Swiss wife of the 5th Baronet), or could be an indication of how French was a language for the educated and showed good taste and education.
Here is how the room looks for visitors completely empty so that they can wander around and look inside some of the cupboards.
A job well done!
The Muniments Room is now ready for the public to go in and enjoy! Hopefully in the future we will recreate it as a ‘working’ muniments room, with replica documents and objects for visitors to look at.