Posted 15 April 2011 by Andrew Gardner
There is a fascinating documentary on BBC4 which continues over the next five weeks that looks at the work undertaken at National Trust properties over the winter months.
The series is filmed at Petworth House in West Sussex, one of the finest period houses in England and follows the conservation work involved when putting "the house to bed" over the winter months. Now that the National Trust properties have reopened for the 2011 season and have that clean fresh feel about them, this series is well timed.
Petworth House attracts 100,000 visitors a year and the question was asked why the house does not remain open throughout the year. Well 100,000 visitors bring dust and skin fragments so four and a half months is needed so the house can receive 100,000 visitors again the following year!
The emphasis is on conservation and not cleaning. The house comprises 300 year old ceramics, paintings by Turner and Van Dyke and exceptionally valuable rugs. Petworth is home to the finest collection of Turner's work outside of the National Galery and conservators comment on working just inches from such priceless pieces of work while preserving them for the nation.
Seeing the intricacy and thoroughness of the conservation process, it is little wonder it takes four months to prepare Petworth for the following season. Viewers are shown the myriad of fine brushes that are used including badger hair, it depends on just how delicate an individual piece happens to be. Through the winter the house remains in darkness as all blinds are kept fully closed. Conservation is key and the next five programmes should be equally fascinating.
If you would like further information on the Petworth area do read through our pages, we also carry details on Petworth House within our Places to visit pages as well as all the other National Trust properties across Sussex and East Hampshire. If you are going to be one of the 100,000 visitors, why not try a charming Sussex holiday cottage while you are here, we have a great choice to offer you!