Knole is in flux. As we stepped into the courtyard, we spotted this wrapped treasure and were handed a leaflet explaining that work was underway to conserve and repair not only the building but also the precious things which are inside it. In the Great Hall there were some fascinating little boxes with the label “please touch” alongside. Half of the fabric was covered, the other half open to fingertips big and small and the effects were clear to see. The open half was ragged and threadbare, the covered part as new. Fascinating.
(Sadly, no photos inside the house, of course, but there are several online)
Moving on up the stairs, we saw more evidence of restoration and we realised that this was no minor update but a huge undertaking involving the greater part of the house. Not so long ago, the house might have been closed during such major works but thankfully the National Trust is using it as an opportunity to educate us all on what’s involved and keep everyone up to date with the progress. There’s even a blog written by the conservators.
For me, this was the icing on the cake. Of course, I’d love to see the pristine furnishings, well preserved paintings and immaculate carpet. But actually, I think it’s even more interesting to see the skeletons and the painstaking work that is going into safeguarding these treasures for the future.
In some rooms, there were large, wrapped shapes with labels on them.
“Under here is a chair of state, a simple rectangular frame, narrow arms, a fitted square seat cushion and a large, high loose cushion on top, covered in purple silk velvet with applique leather decorations. There are splits, patches and the fragile fringe is missing in places, the velvet pile is largely gone and the colour faded to blue grey”
What fun to imagine the contents of the package, to picture the chair in my head and envisage that purple velvet faded to blue grey!
“Under here is a beechwood settee dating from the early seventeenth century. It is upholstered in the original crimson velvet, fringed and studded with domed gilt nails. The cushion is embroidered in silver and the back divided into panels with crimson and gold thread fringe”
The Spangled Bed hangings were there to see, with a small recreation of the fabric worked by one of the textile volunteers alongside. Beautiful.
I really appreciated this approach to the restoration and have added the blog to my reader – how interesting to follow this long process and of course, to look forward to another visit to see the results of the work.