Lord Effingham Leaves the Billiard Room

One of our largest paintings moved to a temporary new home a few weeks ago! Why did he go away, you might ask?

As part of the National Trust’s care of the objects in our collections, we send objects which need it away for professional conservation and cleaning. The large portrait below has been transported away and will return (hopefully) looking much brighter.

The painting that has gone away for conservation is called ‘Portrait of Charles Howard, Lord Howard of Effingham, 1st Earl of Nottingham’ by Daniel Mytens the elder. It dates to 1620.

Lord Effingham on the wall of the Billiard Room

Lord Howard was commander-in-chief of the English fleet against the Spanish in 1588. The picture is what is known as a ‘swagger portrait’, intended to show off the wealth, power, and social status of the sitter. The subject would usually be standing and the painting would be hung high up in a room to make the viewer ‘look up’ to the painting, whilst the figure in the portrait can look down and masterfully survey the room.

Today’s blog post shares the process of taking such a large painting off the wall, out of Nostell, and away for conservation.

Carefully manouvering Effingham down onto the floor. He was very heavy!

Beginning the packing process. Many layers of tape, acid-free tissue and bubble wrap will be added to thoroughly protect the painting for the journey

The painting is packed in what’s known as ‘soft wrap’. ‘Hard wrap’ is when a solid structure (such as a wooden crate) is used to home an object for transportation. As Lord Howard isn’t going too far, then soft wrap is fine for this journey

Taking down Lord Howard has revealed a problem – the wall behind shows flaking paint. This will need to be checked out by our buildings team, as it could indicate a problem with the wall (for example, the wall could be damp)

Here comes the hard part – negotiating the painting around the bannisters, through Nostell, and out into the awaiting van

A tricky point

Going down!

Watch your heads!

Almost there…

Into the van…

And we’re done! Hopefully the painting will be back with us in a few months

A close-up of the stern face of Lord Howard of Effingham

I wonder what Lord Howard will think of his temporary home for the next few months? Judging by his expression in the above photo, I think he’ll be much happier when he returns to Nostell! We look forward to seeing Lord Howard back where he belongs.

Thank-you to the outdoors team, who helped with the move of Lord Howard out into the van.


Angelica Kauffmann returns – with a video surprise!

One of our star items at Nostell is our oil painting by Angelica Kauffmann, titled ‘Self-portrait of the Artist hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting’, dated 1794. For the majority of this year, the painting (fondly known simply as ‘Angelica’) has been on display in the Angelika Kauffmann Museum in Schwarzenberg, Austria, as the chief object in the exhibition, ‘Angelika Kauffman and the Music’.

Angelica returned last week, and the furniture in the Small Drawing Room had to be moved to one side to accommodate her re-hanging. The room looked rather disorganised, as you can see in the photograph below.

Furniture in the Small Drawing Room

The Small Drawing Room looking unusually untidy

It took us a morning to put all of the furniture back into their original positions. As an experiment, we filmed the moving on a time lapse camera, and are quite pleased with the results!

If you watch the video below, you’ll see two members of the house team scurrying around to get everything right in time for the opening of the house – enjoy!


Below is a photo of the finished room, with Angelica back in pride of place on the south wall. Everybody is pleased to see her back where she belongs! You can find out more about the painting by looking on the National Trust’s collections website at: http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/960079

Small Drawing Room

The Small Drawing Room back to its usual neatness and splendour!

We hope to record more time lapse videos during the winter period to share with you. Who knows what you’ll see us getting up to next!

You can also view Nostell’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/NostellPrioryNT and watch other videos that we have made over the past few years.

The House Team

Spotlight on: Highlights of Nostell Priory

A few months ago saw the launch of the National Trust Collections website. The website holds details of almost every item within the National Trust and all of our properties. It means that you can see what treasures we hold in our properties from the comfort of your own homes!

Here’s the all important link: http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/ You can also see highlights from individual properties, including Nostell. These ‘highlights’ are what are considered the foremost pieces in a property’s collection.

To see all of Nostell’s highlights together, follow this link: http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/search/highlights/Nostell-Priory,-West-Yorkshire-(Accredited-Museum)/1

Can you guess what we’ve included in the highlights of Nostell Priory?

We have chosen a mix of paintings, furniture, and a cabinet. The highlights are listed below (in no particular order). If you click on each link it will take you to the web page for that particular object, so you can read about it in more detail. Don’t forget to vote in the poll at the bottom of the page for your favourite highlight!

1. The Hongs Bowl http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/959642

Hongs Bowl

2. The Dolls’ House http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/959710

Dolls’ House

3. Lady’s writing table http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/959738

Lady’s writing table

4. Medal Cabinet http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/959788

Medal cabinet

5. John Harrison clock http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/959830

John Harrison clock

6. Barometer http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/959831


7. Brueghel’s The Procession to Calvary http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/959460


8. Lockey’s Sir Thomas Moore and his Family http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/960059


9. Hugh Douglas Hamilton’s Sir Rowland Winn, 5th Bt (1739 – 1785) and his Wife Sabine Louise d’Hervart (1734 -1798) in the Library at Nostell Priory http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/960061

Hugh Douglas Hamilton

10. Hogarth’s Act 1, Scene 2 of The Tempest by William Shakespeare http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/960074


Do you agree with our highlights? You may have your own favourites from Nostell that you would like to see included. Let us know! Vote in the poll below and find out if your favourite object is the same as everybody else!

So go on, check out the links to have a look at our collections online – it may inspire you to come and see the objects in real life!


Conservation In Miniature – Part One

Here at Nostell Priory we’ve recently completed the installation of an exhibition in the Museum Room which focuses on all of the conservation work that we do to look after the property and contents. One of our most treasured exhibitions is also in the museum room – our wonderful Dolls’ House. When we were designing the exhibition we were inspired to use the dolls’ house as a model for part of it, which we have called ‘Conservation in Miniature’. I thought we’d use this blog post to share with you how we created our miniature dolls’ house.

Nostell’s historic dolls’ house, which is just under 300 years old!

Our aim was to create one room of a dolls’ house, and then furnish and decorate it as though it was undertaking the same deep winter clean that the actual rooms in Nostell are subject to each year. This included making miniature dust covers, book rests, tissue paper hats, vacuums, white gloves, shoe covers and other types of conservation equipment. It’s a way of really engaging people with the intricacies of conservation, on a miniature scale which captures the imagination and is memorable. Here’s how it was done:

First we had to build the dolls’ house display room, which was ordered and arrived flat-packed. I also measured up the walls and floor so that we could cut carpet and wallpaper that was the correct size.

We needed wallpaper with a small pattern which would complement the small size of the furniture to go into our dolls’ house display room

The display box was built up after the wallpaper and carpet were stuck on

The basic dolls’ house display box, ready to be filled with miniature furniture and (more importantly) a range of miniature conservation equipment

We chose a dining room setting as the best with which to display a range of conservation techniques. The main furniture in the room was ordered from the internet.

Smaller objects were bought from specialist dolls’ house shops to furnish the room, including miniature books, ceramic vases, and brushes. It’s amazing what you could find in the shops!

And then the fun began – making all of the conservation tools! Here I cut out felt mats which we place underneath objects to prevent scratching of surfaces (particularly wooden table tops)

Making replica foam book rests (out of a sponge!) Foam book rests help to support books when they are been used/looked at for research. It means that pages won’t come loose from spines and the boards and spines aren’t subject to excess pressure.

I tried to recreate the smallest of details to make it as representive of a room in a National Trust property as possible – including a drugget (long robust carpet that marks out the visitor route) and kickboards (long pieces of shaped wood which separate the visitor route from areas in a rooms which can’t be entered). Kickboards are better than traditional stanchions (upright poles with ropes hanging between them) as kickboards are lower and less obtrusive, letting visitors really feel that they are ‘in’ a room.

Protective corners on a miniature painting, and a roll of bubble wrap ready to help wrap it up for transportation. The painting is a scaled-down copy of Angelica Kauffmann’s ‘The Artist Hesitating Between the Arts of Music and Painting’. I wanted something in our replica dolls’ house room which was specific to Nostell Priory

Shoe/boot covers (to stop mud, dust and dirt from being tracked into the carpets) were made from actual cut up boot covers! I also made light meters (blue wool dosimeters) and pest traps. The more conservation equipment that we could replicate to put into the room would help to show how busy National Trust properties really are over the winter period!

With furniture established in the conservation in miniature dolls’ house, it was time to furnish the room properly with all of the conservation equipment made and put it into the display cabinet (the fun part!)

Join us in the Part Two blog post about our Conservation In Miniature exhibition to see it all come together…


Up, up and… onto the scaffolding!

Hanging Pictures at Nostell Priory – A Play In Two Acts

Scene: Four paintings need to be hung up at Nostell Priory. This may sound fairly straightforward, but two of the paintings are quite large and unwieldy, and the second two are high up at the head of one of the main staircases. This calls for an elite group of people, namely Nostell Priory’s conservation and house team (cue inspirational music)!

Act 1

Character: Wooded Alpine river landscape, with figures and cattle on a road, by Gaspard Dughet, known as Gaspar Poussin (c. 1615-1675)

Character: Scene from The Tempest by William Shakespeare, by William Hogarth (c. 1736)

Erecting the stage (or rather the scaffolding) in the Small Dining Room

Theatre handyman and stage technician Maurice prepares chains to assist in the hanging of the paintings

Poussin’s painting takes centre stage as it moves into position

Carefully ensuring that the play goes on without any hiccups, the well-rehearsed script is followed to the letter

Drama unfolds as Angie awaits the result of Act 1 – will the play be a comedy, tragedy, or romance?

To the relief of all Hogarth is safe on the wall, and is propped up by many eager stagehands as the final securing of the painting takes place

The finished set – two main theatre stars with four adoring fans on each side

Act 2

Scene: The play moves to an area outside the main auditorium. The stage is erected again, but this time is much higher as the paintings which need to be hung are very high up the wall.

It’s a team effort for the stagehands to erect the scaffolding

The view from the balcony (or rather, the view from the second floor staircase). Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou?

A moment of comedy and laughter within the play by the three court jesters – who says we don’t enjoy our job?

Awaiting the ‘curtain up’ moment (and awaiting the next painting to hang)

Concentration captured on camera as the portrait of Andrew Marvel (unknown artist, mid 17th century) is lifted up through the scaffolding

Marvel is put into position by two budding actors as the understudy waits patiently underneath

The finished masterpiece – what a show!

Applause and curtain calls as four paintings have been successfully hung by a group of budding thespians, watched by a rapt audience. The End!