It’s been nearly five years since the tapestries were removed from the Holly bedroom for conservation and in April we were able to return the first two tapestries to have been conserved temporarily to its walls. The process took the team three days to complete. First, we had to vacuum the dusty walls, then line them with a breathable material called Tyvek® which will protect the tapestries from the plaster of the walls, this was stapled in place along and down the battens. Hard Velcro® was stapled along the top batten of the room to hang the tapestries from. Soft Velcro® was applied to lengths of webbing tape which was stitched to the top edge of each tapestry. We then rolled the tapestry onto a drain pipe hoisted it onto its end from the scaffolding and then slowly unrolled it whilst attaching it to the Velcro® as we went along. Like the take down of the Yellow bedroom tapestries this was very much a team effort.
Image 1 and 2. You can see in these pictures we have completed stapling the white Tyvek® to the walls and are in the process of hanging the Cobbler tapestry, rolling it from the drain pipe onto the Velcro® on the walls.
However the tapestries are only hanging temporarily as they still need a further lining applying to protect them from dust. Before we can do this, we need the tapestries to relax and ‘drop’ returning as close as possible to the dimensions they were when they were taken off the walls back in 2010. Some small changes to their dimensions have occurred as a result of the tapestries having undergone a wet cleaning process and having then been under tension on a frame during their conservation treatment. If the tapestries were just to hang straight down a flat wall this would not be a problem, however these tapestries have to fit around mouldings and doors, go around corners and join with each other as they were originally hung back in 1762.
You can visit Doddington hall on a Wednesday or Sunday and see the two tapestries hanging in the Holly bedroom, they are the Cobbler and Bagpiper tapestries which hang either side of the fireplace. If you do visit you might notice that they currently do not quite fit into the mouldings around the fireplace, we are hoping that given enough time they will relax to fit, we are taking regular measurements to monitor their progress.
You may also notice that there is a gap between the two tapestries above the fireplace, this is where two smaller strips of tapestry will hang as they originally did, filling this gap. These two pieces of tapestry are currently hanging back to front in the room so you can see some of our stitching.
As well as filling the gap between the two tapestries the strips of tapestry also cover a large hole in the bagpiper tapestry which we think may have been caused by a flame, perhaps a candle. You can see our dyed patch repair to the area which was previously just a large fraying hole.
Image 3. You can see the two tapestries do not quite fit around the moulding of the fireplace yet. The arrow is pointing to our dyed patch repair in the large hole in the bagpiper tapestry. You can see in the image below the hole before the tapestries were removed from the walls.
Image 4. The large hole in the bagpiper tapestry is exposed following the removal of the strips of tapestries during the take down of the whole room of tapestries back in 2010. You can also see how dirty the tapestries were in this photograph and how much brighter the colours are now they have been cleaned.
Image 5. Here is a photograph of the team at the end of our three days hanging the tapestries. (From the left- Leah Warriner Wood, Alice Brown, Sophie Minnis, Elaine Owers, Louise Joynson and Anna Stone)
For images and weekly updates on the conservation project, follow us on Instagram at conservation_at_doddington.