Dusty but not dry
A roomful of Stanhoe and Barwick WI members and visitors from neighbouring WIs welcomed Terri Dewhurst from the National Trust Conservation Centre at Oulton Street, near Blickling, to talk about the work undertaken in the Conservation Studios.
Originally trained in fashion design, Terri decided that she preferred stitching and took an MA in textile conservation. This proved to be a wonderful foundation for working on a selection of the 65 tapestries, 20 state beds, and 31,000 costumes owned by the National Trust.
photo: Rosemary Brown
We were treated to a step by step explanation, with samples as well as images, of the conservation of 11 of the Gideon Tapestries from Hardwick Hall, woven in 1578, which are 6 metres high and 70 metres in total length. We were even shown an original bag of dust vacuumed from a tapestry, which process came before wet cleaning, and then being supported by conservation stitching onto linen, and finally having Velcro applied for rehanging.
The Knole Spangled Bed, which was three years into detailed conservation, and the Congress of Vienna Chairs from Northern Ireland also amazed us.
It is detailed, methodical and meticulous work, often in chilly, damp, uncomfortable conditions, but one which fascinates the conservators, and leads them to pass on their knowledge by training National Trust house staff and volunteers.
Our speaker was enthusiastic, entertaining, and utterly enthralling, and we much hope to meet her in situ if we visit the centre next year.
After tea and delicious cake provided by members we despatched the business meeting with speed, and much clearing up was quickly carried out after a wonderful afternoon which was enjoyed by our visitors and audience in general.