Standen

What goes on behind the scenes at Standen House, an Arts & Crafts family home


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Object of the Month: December – Christmas Card Scrapbook

A page from the scrapbook

A page from the scrapbook

Seeing as it is only a couple of weeks until Christmas, I figured that the Object of the Month for December should reflect that spirit so I have chosen the Christmas card scrapbook from our collection.

This scrapbook contains most of the  Christmas cards that were sent to the Beale family at Standen. They date from the Late Victorian Era to the 1930s—so some cards are over 100 years old. These cards came from friends, family and acquaintances and were all stored in here.

This book was bequeathed to us in 2011 by a granddaughter, Phyllis Wager, of James and Margaret Beale.

Christmas cards, like many new ideas, took a while to catch on but in the 1870s and 1880s became more and more popular, boosted by cheaper rates for sending them by post.

A Christmas Card from the Scrapbook

A Christmas Card from the Scrapbook

By the 1880s, well known artists, like Kate Greenaway, were commissioned by manufactures to design cards. However, these cards were deemed too expensive for most, so cheaper cards were mass produced and designs were adapted from Valentines cards and soon became enormously popular.

Popular designs included holly, ivy and religious scenes. However, in the latter part of the 1800s, designs soon started to include spring flowers, nudes, birds, animals and insects.

Merry Christmas :)

 


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Black and Silver…

The Tarnished Silver Coffee Pot

The Tarnished Silver Coffee Pot

Silver is one of those metals that tends to tarnish very easily, especially if it exposed to the air or if people are handling it. As both of these things are hard to prevent, silver objects start to develop blackish patches and generally do not look as nice as they can.

We have a silver coffee pot that sits on a tray outside the Dining room. We moved it into the kitchen for Christmas and realized that, in better lighting, it was in need of a clean.

Silver Dip

Silver Dip

We are careful about using chemicals to clean objects because, more often than not, chemicals tend to take off layers of material. We dust items regularly, using pony hair and hogs hair brushes and sometimes specially designated cloths. But the coffee pot had tarnished beyond that point (or at least the point where it would take several hours to clean one small area).

Cleaning the Coffee Pot

Cleaning the Coffee Pot

We use a product called Silver Dip to clean silver objects. It works by removing a single layer of silver (along with all of the tarnish) to reveal the clean silver underneath.

Using a  small piece of cotton wool dipped in silver dip, I rubbed a small area of the coffee pot gently and in a circular movement until all the tarnish had gone. Then using another piece of cotton wool, but dipped in water, I rubbed the same area in a circular motion to remove any left over silver dip. If silver dip is left on and not cleaned off it can go through several layers of silver and ruin the object. Any excess water is removed by dabbing tissue paper on it. This is then repeated until the

Shiny and Clean

Shiny and Clean

whole of the object is clean. To get into the small nooks and crannies along the lip and the handle, I used a cotton wool bud, repeating the above. The pot was then buffed to bring out the shine.

 


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Something Old, Something New

The De Morgan Cabinet

The De Morgan Cabinet

Recently we have been loaned a beautiful cabinet, designed by William De Morgan and made by J.P. Seddon around the 1870s, by the De Morgan Foundation.

The cabinet is made of stained ebonised oak with floral inlaid motifs on its sides created from ebony, padoak, box and maple, as well as gilt accents. It also has an oil painting depicting St George presenting the princess and the captured dragon to the King.

As with any item that comes into our care, we thoroughly clean and

1 Hogs Hair and 2 Pony Hair Brushes

1 Hogs Hair and 2 Pony Hair Brushes

inspect it. I used three different brushes plus an ergo vacuum cleaner to do this. I used a hogs hair brush for the wood, mostly the back of the cabinet and a softer ponytail hair brush for the inlaid wood. I also used a separate ponytail hair brush for the gilt accents. Hogs hair is a lot coarser so can be damaging to soft materials but on hard woods it is very good at getting dust from little cracks and crevices. Pony hair is very soft and as such can be used on most materials apart from textiles.

Condition Report

Condition Report

Dusting the cabinet also gave me the chance to inspect it for any possible damage like cracks or chips. I recorded this all onto its Condition report, so that when we next deep clean it, someone can look at the report to see if there is any new damage.

 


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Dressing up the House

Jan and Sue decorating the Stairs this morning

Jan and Sue decorating the Stairs this morning

Every year the house is decorated for Christmas in either a Victorian or 1920s style and you all get to come in and see the finished product. But not this year; if you come to visit in the next two weeks we will still be dressing the house up for the festive season.

Two ladies, Jan and Sue, from our volunteering team are in charge of organizing who does what when as well as being the first ones in to decorate. We do take pictures of what was done the previous Christmas, especially regarding the placement – and decorations – of the Christmas tree but mostly Jan and Sue rely on their memories of what worked – and did not work – from the previous year.P1040305

Christmas in the 1920s was similar to today – although not as commercialized. The children eagerly await the arrival of Father Christmas and their presents. Christmas trees were put up and lit with real candles – tinsel was even used though it looked more like long strands of silver and gold. Whole families would gather together, attend Church and have a big Christmas meal – though you were more likely to find beef on the table instead of turkey. Branches and leaves were used to decorate the house inside and out as well as Christmas Wreaths on the doors.

The Wreaths

The Wreaths

For the Beales, Christmas was a time to gather together. Mr Beale (and later one of his sons) would dress up as Father Christmas whilst the children would hide in the Hall. Father Christmas would then sneak into the Drawing Room, clatter the fire tongs and the children would come running in to see him, most especially to see what presents they were getting.

Later in the life of the Beale family, Christmas became one of the few occasions for the family to gather at Standen.

 


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All Tic-Toc at Standen!

Winding the Clock in the Drawing Room

Winding the Clock in the Drawing Room

Hi, I’m Caroline, one of Standen’s part-time Conservation Assistants, helping with the daily, weekly and annual conservation tasks within the house.

One of the first jobs I was introduced to was checking, winding and resetting the clocks. It’s one of the many routine weekly  jobs which do not take too long, but you need to be mindful when handling each clock, especially looking for any changes which may affect the workings of each one.

We do this every Tuesday morning so we can keep an accurate record of how each clock is performing. We note the minutes each clock is ahead or behind and

Benjamin Bulline Table Clock

Benjamin Bulline Table Clock

how many turns of the key the springs or weights need to keep the clock running. Any problems are reported to our Clock conservator, who comes to visit  annually.

As you can imagine, each clock has it’s own personality and it does not take long to know which clocks run slow and those that keep perfect time! If I could take one home, it would be the Benjamin Bulline Table Clock (circa 1770) located in the stairwell. It’s an oriental design with beautiful ornamentation.

J.W. Benson Clock

J.W. Benson Clock

Another clock I’m really fond of is the J. W. Benson clock which sits proudly above the fireplace in the Morning Room, due to its chimes. This clock always runs ahead of time so we need to reset the time by winding the hands forward, hence we get to hear its delightful charm!

Whats your favorite clock in the House?

Caroline, Conservation Assistant


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Object of the Month: November: Brass ‘Secessionist’ Mirror

sta0511This mirror was made in  Vienna, Austria around 1900. It is made in the Art Nouveau style, a style favoured by Charles Rennie Macintosh and Gustav Klimt.

 Secessionism refers to a movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where groups of modernist artists split from established schools and thoughts of Art. This first started in Paris and Munich, before moving onto Vienna, Berlin and finally,  Cologne. The best known ‘Secessionist’ movement happened in Vienna and led to the birth of Art Nouveau.

Art Nouveau is inspired by natural forms and structures, like plants, flowers and curved lines. Art Nouveau grew out of the Arts and Crafts movement (although it formed alongside the latter half of this movement) and the designs of William Morris.

Joseph Hoffman, an artist of the Vienna Secessionists, broke away from the Art Nouveau movement to form the Wiener Werkstätte, the Austrian version of the Arts and Craft Movement.

 


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The Return of the … Fender

The Fender

The Fender

We have recently welcomed the return of the fender that sat in front of the fireplace in the Drawing Room. It was designed by Phillip Webb and made by John Pearson, a renowned Arts and Crafts metalworker. It is decorated with sunflowers, matching the wallpaper, curtains and light sconces.

The Sunflower

The Sunflower

The fender has been in the home of Philomean and David Tas for the last few decades, both having strong links to Standen. David and Philomena came to Standen in 1969, when David was employed as Farm Manager by Helen. he ahs fond memories of working on the farm: “Standen was a lovely farm to run with the principal enterprise being milk production from the herd of pedigree Jersey cows. These were Miss Beale’s great love and her interest in the cows and the farm in general was acute.”

Helen Beale

Helen Beale

Philomena was later employed by the Beale family to be Helen’s nurse (she was qualified as a professional nurse) and looked after Helen until her death in 1972.

Helen was a strict  but fair employer but she had strong ideas of the distinctions between staff roles. David says: “Miss Beale was a kind and fair employer but drew a firm distinction in her relationship with staff. If Philomena needed to remove a washbowl from the bedroom Miss Beale would not permit her to do this task as she was a professional nurse – one of the house servants would be summoned to perform the task instead.”

Helen’s Will encourage her staff to take away an item that would remind them of their time working there. Philomena chose the fender as a reminder of the times that Helen and her would sit by the fire in Drawing room in the afternoons. Philomena sadly passed away earlier this year, and her husband, David, returned the fender to us.

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