From Chandeliers to Chess pieces: Hillsborough Castle collections undergo six week conservation clean
and live on Freeview channel 276
Now, over 200 years later, Castle and Collections Manager David Orr and his team of four are following much the same cleaning techniques and traditions as the royal residence undergoes its annual conservation clean of around 1,200 items throughout every room of the Castle.
Over six weeks, the team will painstakingly dust, hoover, wax and wash items from the collection, including the oldest items such as the Irish Elk Antlers above the State Entrance, which are at least 8,000 years old, and from a Bartolomeo painting which dates back the early 1500s, to the Royal applique banner and its intricate gilding in the Throne Room.
The Drawing Room will take four days alone as it contains the greatest number of objects within the collection, meanwhile the impressive Chandeliers which adorn the Throne Room are both the biggest and smallest pieces to be dusted and cleaned, with each individual crystal getting the VIP treatment.
David explained: “It takes about a day to do one chandelier alone, which means quite a few pieces of scaffolding being carefully built within the Throne Room.
“Next door, The Drawing Room has an impressive collection of paintings, each of which will have to be individually cleaned, plus furniture and rugs, all of which must be delicately vacuumed and washed to ensure their integrity.”
Visitors can get an exclusive insight into the conservation process during a unique behind the scenes conservation tour with David Orr as part of the Northern Ireland Science Festival on February 22 and 23.
David continue:; “During the tour, we’ll be showing how we care for the historic collections and the techniques we use, as well as providing some tips and advice for the visitors’ own collections of antiques they may have at home.
“We will also welcome clock conservator Duncan Greig who visits Hillsborough Castle every year to service our antique clocks, such as the Dan Quare and Stephen Horseman Clock which sits in the heart of the Castle, the Ante Room. It is on loan to us from the V&A in London and is the oldest and most accurate working timepiece.
“Duncan will show visitors how he cleans and restores these historical timepieces, being careful not to damage any of their delicate materials, nor knock off their accuracy.”
The conservation tours are part of a series of events at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens as part of the NI Science Festival.
A Beginners Guide to the Science of Compost will take place on February 16, where visitors can learn how to get the carbon and nitrogen ratio just right, what can be composted and when it is ready to use. Hillsborough Castle gardeners will also give a guided tour of the Walled Garden and a behind the scenes look at their operating base.
On February 18 visitors can discover the magical technique of early photography and make their own cyanotype print to take home. While on February 25, the Festival events close with a beeswax wrap workshop with Hillsborough Castle’s resident beekeeper, Gwen Earnshaw.
For further information visit hrp.org.uk/Hillsborough-castle.