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

A Happy (if rather damp) New Year!


Happy New Year!

After a wet and blustery end to 2013 and start to 2014, we’ve been assessing the storm damage across the estate. There’s been some serious damage in the garden, and although we have been a little more fortunate in the house, some rooms were affected by the high winds and driving rain.

Staff living on site had been able to check the house over the Christmas break for immediate problems, but it was not until we all arrived back at the start of this week, and were able to check rooms in detail that we were able to establish what damage had been caused.

Silverfish damage to Larkspur wallpaper

Silverfish have eaten the wallpaper down to the plaster in some places

Some rooms in the house have a history of leaks and damp patches, and these were made worse by the recent weather. The Larkspur Bedroom and Dressing Room in particular have suffered in the recent weather – not only have old damp patches reappeared, but the relative humidity in the room rose to worrying levels; resulting in mould patches and damage to the Morris & Co. Larkspur wallpaper. We set up a dehumidifier, and fans to circulate the air, which should help bring down the RH to a safer level in time for opening in mid-February.

While inspecting the dressing room, we also found that silverfish had caused significant damage to the wallpaper; something that I mentioned in a previous post about caring for wallpaper. It’s likely that the high humidity levels in this room contributed to the silverfish infestation; however the insects had not made much of an appearance in the traps we use to monitor them. Because of the risks to the wallpaper in both the bedroom and dressing room, we’ll be starting wallpaper monitoring as a priority.

Christmas clean up

The fallen pine needles outline where the Christmas tree in the porch stood

Post-Christmas, we also needed to take down the wonderful decorations our band of volunteers had installed. We had so many compliments from visitors about the decorations, so full credit has to go to the team of ladies that spent hours collecting, making and installing the decorations. It was a much messier task to take down the Christmas trees than it was to put them up – real trees are great, but pine needles get everywhere!

Finally, this week we’ve also been continuing with our annual deep clean. This is done on a rolling basis throughout the year, and this week was the turn of the North Bedroom and the Larkspur Bedroom and Dressing Room. This really enables us to check the Larkspur in particular for any further problems it might have. As the room is mainly roped off to visitors to protect the historic carpet, this can provide an undisturbed environment for unwanted problems – from mould to carpet beetle. As I speak, members of the house team are checking the room in minute detail, so fingers crossed they don’t find any other serious problems.

Hannah - deep clean

Hannah in the process of giving the North Bedroom its deep clean


Author: Hannah Severn

I'm a trainee Conservation & Interpretation Assistant at Standen, a National Trust Arts & Crafts house and garden in West Sussex.

2 thoughts on “A Happy (if rather damp) New Year!

  1. Pingback: Redecorating the Drawing Room | Standen

  2. Pingback: Work on Wallpaper | Standen

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