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Keeping the Castle Clean
By Eleanor Brooke-Peat // Wed 16th March 2022
Cleaning, Curatorial, History
Deep cleaning the House after Christmas is a mammoth task for the House team before it reopens on the 2nd April.
Introducing the curatorial blog

Welcome to our new blog! As a team, we are excited to begin providing our readers with a deeper insight into the history, restoration, and ongoing conservation of the House and the amazing collection it is home to.

Our Curatorial Team comprises of Dr Chris (Head Curator), Eleanor (Assistant Curator) and Matthew (Graduate Trainee). We are joined by placement students & researchers throughout the year who support our team and ongoing programme of work.

This first blog will focus on the mammoth task of deep cleaning the interiors, which all takes place before the House reopens again on the 2nd April 2022. We hope you enjoy this trip behind the scenes and we look forward to sharing our monthly blogs with you here!

A new year and clean

It is the start of a new year at Castle Howard, and you would be forgiven for thinking all is quiet in the House. The Christmas decorations are all packed away, and the doors are closed until we reopen. Time to put our feet up and have a cup of tea, right? In many ways, however, this can be the busiest time of year for some of our teams – and while there’s always time for a cuppa, there is also a long list of jobs to be done.

From January to March the housekeeping team are hard at work, giving every room a deep clean from top to bottom. A lot of careful planning is needed to make sure all the precious art, artefacts and furnishings are cleaned in time and in the right way. This is also the perfect opportunity to check over the condition of objects: from historic repairs on an antique bust, to the fragile glazed surface of the enormous Delft flower vase, and everything in between. Working closely with our team, means problems can be spotted quickly and anything needing specialist attention can be identified.

Each room is carefully reviewed

It’s not just the collection that needs some TLC though, but also the rooms themselves. From the very highest points in the house – just think about the Great Hall with its 70ft dome! – right down to the floors beneath our feet. With tens of thousands of visitors walking through the house every year, we do everything we can to defend them from wear. So wooden floors are stripped, and wax reapplied, providing a much-needed layer of protection for the months ahead.

Jobs that are generally too awkward or messy for when visitors are around are top priority. A particularly important one is having the chimneys swept, essential for keeping things clean but also to avoid the risk of chimney fires – especially relevant given Castle Howard’s history with fire! Floorboards can be lifted, allowing our building services team to access electrical wires and plumbing pipework, helping to ensure that this old house keeps on functioning

A new season at Castle Howard
Next time you pass, perhaps taking a stroll in the grounds or on your way to Skelf Island with your family, spare a thought to the hive of activity happening just out of sight. Castle Howard has been here for over three centuries, and our hardworking staff and volunteers help to ensure that we’ll still be here for many more years to come.