Go Team Textiles!

By Neil Smith: Forestry/ Conservation Volunteer

Hello all, thought I’d contribute to the conservation blog and give you a taster of how I help in the Hall. For those of you out there who don’t know who I am my name is Neil Smith; one half of the textiles team, part of the current re-cabling project. I also volunteer in the forestry department but thought the re-cabling project would be a good opportunity to branch out! Puns aside, if you’ve been round the Hall in the last month or so and noticed the curtains wrapped up in white Tyvek and wondered what that was all about then read on…

Maggie and myself; directed of course by Mary Luckhurst, have been working from top to bottom protecting the drapes from the ongoing work. I’ll keep things brief here but the extended version will appear on my own blog very soon (preferably before Christmas!). If I manage to pique your interest and not send you to slumber land here is the link: http://wynpoljourn.blogspot.co.uk/.

neil smith pic

Anyway, on with the show so to speak.

This week it was just Mary and I doing the textiles as Maggie had been taken ill. First off were the lovely curtains in the Yellow Drawing Room as seen here (left). The task here was to create Tyvek bags to fully protect the curtains. Sounds easy? Put it this way, I was glad Mary was able to help me as it’s definitely a two person job! Something I came to realise that afternoon when I was making more bags on my own!

Simply put (or as simple as I can make it) we cut a length of Tyvek and fold it in half. When the bag is in place the curtain sits in this fold with the rest of the Tyvek running up the back and front of the curtain.

In between the folds of the curtain we place acid-free tissue sausages to pad out the folds to prevent possible creasing of the material.

With the sausages in place the two ends of the bag are then folded round and tucked into each other to fully enclose the curtain. A specially created draw string at the top of the bag is pulled tight (but not too tight) to secure it in place.

neil smith pic2

A couple of extra strands of tape (or in this case, Tyvek) are used to prevent the two ends from unravelling, usually tied middle and bottom of the bag. Hey presto! A fully bagged curtain ready for when the contractors move in to do their work. The photo right shows the completed piece.

I should also mention we do diversify occasionally and roll some carpets, it’s not all curtains!

With the Hall being wrapped up for Christmas this year it’s been a bit too and fro with the materials. I had to borrow the only remaining roll of Tyvek from the lovely volunteers wrapping all manner of things ready for the next two weekends!

So a big thank you goes to the ladies for keeping me out of mischief and managing to carry on with the curtains!

Unfortunately Mary was preoccupied with other jobs in the afternoon so I pushed on by myself.

Moving clockwise from the entrance hall, which had already been spruced up by the house staff, eventually found me in the Long Gallery (I think! If I’m wrong you’re welcome to correct me).

One thing that was noticeable bagging the curtains that afternoon was the effect of light damage on the curtain material as seen in the photo below. I know that Julia (Conservation Assistant at Wimpole) is working on a side project to monitor the light levels in each room to see how it affects materials.

neil smith pic3It may be difficult to see from the picture but there is a stark contrast between the lighter fabric on the edge to the true red of the material itself. Hopefully the results of the light survey will highlight the problems of light in a grand Hall like Wimpole.

Thanks for reading and hopefully you’ll be hearing more from us soon!

Some Discoveries…

Some fantastic finds under the floorboards last week!

Wimpole pics 1 024

Here Mary and Barbara are busy with the floorboards, and some really interesting finds made their efforts very worth while!

At the top of the main staircase, just outside what was the old nursery, were these delicate finds…


Assistant House Steward, Steph Parsons, was talking me through the objects. All items are ivory, there are two knives, and a selection of counters, some of which you can see above. To give a rough idea, they are roughly the size of a two pence piece. The smallest knife here looks tiny enough to perhaps belong to a doll, and the slightly larger one could have been a child’s. They are both quite plain, not too fancy. You can almost picture a small child posting little counters and dolls toys through gaps in the floorboards! I wonder if mum ever found out!

DSC_2570 (3)

DSC_2570Steph has been researching the counters, they had coloured paper on one side and different geographical locations on the other. For example, ‘Division of Canada’ or ‘Islands of America in the Atlantic Ocean’ as we can see in the picture. If they belonged to a game, Steph reckons there could have once been a map with them as well. She believes the pieces date from around the 18th or 19th centuries. Look at the shape of the ‘s’ in the place names. Has anyone ever seen or heard of a similar game? We’d really like to hear any ideas on how it was played.


Remember that colour matching exercise that was taking place downstairs (here)? Well here are the results in action…

Wimpole pics 1 020James here, is painting in the new smoke detector heads and wires. The new additions have to blend into every surface they cross. This means James has to match the paint of the heads to the ceiling…


but also the wires have to match the wall they pass and the skirting they cross as well. Not only is this all colour change, but the texture of the surfaces have to be matched as well, for example the replicating of a stippled effect.

With all this re-cabling the Chancellor’s bedroom, one of the first floor show rooms is all packed away and storing items safely.

Wimpole pics 1 017

But it’s not just inside the main rooms of the house that gets all the attention.

DSC_2550This is a wonderful view of the dome, above the ceiling of the Yellow Drawing room. Rob is busy re-wiring in this picture, and it’s not often we’d get to see the dome from this angle!

Did you come to Wimpole Wrapped last weekend? If not, never fear, it is on this weekend as well! Have a look Here and Here for information.


Wimpole pics 1 007

These are some sneaky peeks at what went on behind the scenes there. Some spray painting of pineapples on the left and on the right protective flooring being laid. And yes, the guy at the back there, is indeed wearing an elf hat! Come along on the 14th or 15th to see why all this was happening…

Wimpole Wrapped!

Farm wrapped2

Plans are underway for our ‘Wimpole Wrapped’ Christmas this year. Red ribbon is appearing estate-wide as this year’s theme is extending outside and in…

Wimpole pics 1 036

A peek at the main entrance into the Stable Block and Ticket Office.

Wimpole Wrapped

Have a look at how Wimpole is protected during the winter; from the conservation inside the Hall to the care of Home farm and the gardens as well. It will be taking place this weekend, the 7th and 8th of December; as well as next weekend, the 14th and 15th of December. Click the link above for more info on our events page.

At the farm, a huge 20ft Christmas tree has been put up in front of the great barn and Steph Turner, one of the Farm’s Experience Officers has said that it’s the first time the farm will have its tree positioned there. She has said that they’ve gone wrapping mad at the farm; buildings, trees, hay bales and even some of the tools are being decked out in ribbon.

Farm wrapped1

Farm wrapped3


Here on the left is the Cart Barn, and its brick pillars are all wrapped and ready. On the right are some hay parcel presents, the animals will be pleased!

Wimpole pics 1 046

Even the tractor is getting involved!

Wimpole pics 1 042Some of the buildings are being wrapped like giant presents, and Steph has said that there’s a few more big surprises that we’ll need to look out for too!

It’s an innovative way to do Christmas and she thinks it’s a great way to show off the brilliant conservation work across the estate, that everyone gets involved in, throughout the winter months.


Here we can see Barbara wrapping the dividing ropes inside the Hall.

While, below, Hilary prepares the chairs.

Hilary wrapping up a chair

The Gardens are having their fair share of wrapping too! The trees throughout the Pleasure grounds have been decorated, plus the Walled and Formal Gardens too.

The Walled Garden

The Walled Garden

The Formal Gardens

The Formal Gardens

And Of course the Stable Block tree; looking very magical thanks to Meg Hewett, one of our wonderful volunteers.


Come and visit Wimpole this weekend or next to see more of the festivities! Everybody has been working really hard to make it a great experience for everyone!