Spotlight on: Chairs for Children

“Children should be seen and not heard” – I don’t know whether or not this was ever a view held by the Winn family who lived at Nostell, but it seemed fitting as today’s post highlights the furniture at Nostell which was specifically made for children.

First up is a rather grand affair. It’s a Louis XVI style 18th century child’s open armchair with upholstered seat (or fauteuil) with tapered panel back and carved gilt frame. Ther’s also a rather nifty child’s footstool to match!

Louis XVI style child’s open armchair

To contrast with the above chair, the second example is much plainer. It’s a George III child’s mahogany open armchair with a drop-in seat covered with modern leather and squared legs. It’s inscribed ‘Lord St Oswald’.

George III child’s open armchiar

If you look closely you’ll see the keyhole-type shapes in metal at the front of the legs. This shows that there used to be a stand/footstool fitted to the front, which has been lost over the years.

Minus the seat – the ‘drop-in’ style of the chair means that the seat is literally ‘dropped in’ to the frame of the chair

Seat of the chair. You can see how the design of the seat is very simple, with a leather cover and padding tacked onto a board

Brush-vacuuming the George III chair during one of our volunteer conservation workshops

Next time you’re at Nostell, why not look out for these miniature chairs – just remember to look around at knee height!

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What is it like working with the house team at Nostell Priory?

Guest blog post from Alice Matthews, a student placement in conservation who spent four weeks with the house team at the start of 2013. 

I really enjoyed working with the conservation team at Nostell.  Here is a bit of what I did.

From day one, I was thrown straight in cleaning some of Nostell’s numerous chairs and learnt lots of new cleaning skills. I can safely say that cleaning chairs will never be the same again!

Cleaning one of the chairs on the North Staircase

Throughout the weeks, I enjoyed exploring the parts of the house that you don’t normally get to see and was surprised at how much goes on behind the scenes when the house is closed.

Sorting out dust covers – they all looked the same!

It was great that Nostell was running conservation workshops while I was there which were great fun, slightly hectic, but also it was very rewarding to see how much work got done.

Gauze vaccuming a bedspread from the Peacock Bedroom

Insect hunting was an eye opening experience and I never realised how many different bugs lurked in houses.

The sausage making (of the tissue kind) was obviously one of the highlights of my placement. Always been a big sausage fan but this was new a variety for me!

Making acid-free tissue paper sausages to help store curtains correctly

The weather definitely made things challenging, not only getting there, but also working when it’s so cold. It did look very pretty though in the wintery weather and the view I got walking down the drive every morning made it worthwhile.

It was a pleasure to work with the team for four weeks and I just want to thank all the house team and volunteers for making me feel welcome. Thanks for the white gloves, I’m sure they will come in useful in the future!

Alice

Thank-you Alice – you were a real help and we enjoyed having you as part of the house team during your placement.

Good luck with your future career in conservation/heritage!

Nostell Priory and Chippendale on BBC4!

Last Thursday (10th January) BBC4 screened a great documentary called ‘Carved with Love: The Genius of British Woodwork’. It’s a three-part series, and the first focused upon ‘The Extraordinary Thomas Chippendale’. And the most exciting part is…

…lots of it was filmed here at Nostell!

Nostell is home to one of the largest (and we like to think, best) collections of Chippendale furniture in the country. The programme highlights many of our pieces such as the medal cabinet in the Library, the gentleman’s dressing table in the Crimson Bedroom, and our Chinoiserie collection in the State Bedroom, amongst many others. Our House & Collections Manager, Chris, also gets a starring role!

Catch it again on BBC iPlayer – it’s available until 7:59PM Sun, 3 Feb 2013.

Here’s the all-important link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01psbwz/Carved_with_Love_The_Genius_of_British_Woodwork_The_Extraordinary_Thomas_Chippendale/

Enjoy watching!

Textiles and Mould

Housekeeping Training Blog Post No. 3

A key element of National Trust properties are textiles. These come in many forms, from curtains to clothing to wallpaper to furniture to bedclothes to tapestries – the list is endless. So it’s important for us to know how to care for textiles, and equally as important to know how to identify different materials, know of their construction, and how to recognise different types of textile deterioration (for example general wear and tear, pests, light damage, water, inherent structural damage). The photos below show some of the activities that we took part in during the Housekeeping Study Days course.

Examining samples of cotton and linen, learning of their construction and uses

Identifying water damage on bed clothes

Identifying materials and problems to textiles – this photo show silk, pest damage, wool, and in the very bottom right hand corner we looked at an example of inherent deterioration of silk due to the unstoppable oxidisation of the dye

Demonstrating how to clean a chair with a gauze when vacuuming to protect the tapestry material – upholstered furniture is one of the most common items of textiles in a National Trust property

Regular readers of Nostell’s conservation blog will know that we have already had a recent outbreak of mould in our museum room that we had to deal with. The mould session on the housekeeping course was very succinct and informative as to how mould spreads and how it can be cleaned away.

An unusual way of showing how a mould spore spreads, with a knitted mycelium and pipe cleaner fruiting spores!

Equipment used when removing mould, including nitrile gloves, masks and brushes

If you’ve been following our blog you’ll have seen how the housekeeping course covered specific topics that are concerned with country houses, yet the sessions were general enough to be relevant to every National Trust property, and indeed houses in general. The next blog post will see us having a sneaky peek inside Blickling Hall (where the housekeeping study course was held) when the house was closed over the winter period.

Ellie