Who would have thought that I'd enjoy a talk about cleaning?
At yesterday's Behind Closed Doors event Frances Yeo, curator at Lydiard House (and STEAM Museum) explained how she and her staff care and clean the collection. There were quite a few surprises in store, but it all made perfect sense.
She explained why visitors might notice a discreet coating of dust on some of the surfaces and the less obvious that surface is, the thicker the dust - but as Frances explained, this isn't lazy housekeeping. Dragging a cloth across a dusty table top can cause an amazing amount of damage.
Apparently dust isn't a problem until it is several layers deep and this could take up to two years to accumulate. So no need to dust every week then - which has been my argument for, well a lot longer than two years!
Frances explained all about heat, humidity and light recordings and the difficult job of coping with the antiquated heating system in Lydiard House.
The niceties of when to conserve and when to restore were explained and I loved the story of Trigger's 20 year old broom that had 17 new heads and 14 new handles. (Only Fools and Horses). When one of the visitors asked about cleaning the chandeliers I hoped Frances might be about to show us the classic Del Boy and Rodney sketch!
We were then taken on a tour of the state rooms where Frances explained the practicalities of cleaning and caring for the collection. We were shown the effects of vigorous cleaning of the silver by over zealous St John servants and the damage caused more recently by removing the alcohol deposits in a decanter.
So what tips did I bring home to help with my own dusty deposits. Where can I buy Renaissance Wax - it could be the answer to all my housework issues?
The Behind Closed Doors series of events continues next week when Michael Gray will be delivering his fascinating talk Grand Designs. For more details visit the Friends of Lydiard Park website. Please remember that although all the events are free you do have to book by phoning Charlotte Thwaites on 01793 465277.