Standen

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


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Good Clean Fun….

One of our annual tasks in the house, is to deep clean all of the rooms. Recently, I have been helping to finish off the Dining room before its goes to a night-time scene at the end of this month.

Brush dusting the sideboard in the Dining room

Brush dusting the sideboard in the Dining room

Every morning we will dust flat surfaces and vacuum the visitor route but the deep clean takes it to the next level. It means moving most of the objects off any surfaces, dusting and inspecting both, checking for any damage. IT also means crawling under tables and chairs to get rid of cobwebs and dust as well as inspecting the carpets for insect activity like carpet beetle and clothes moth. This happens in every single room and corridor in the house that is open to the public.

In the past, the majority of this deep clean took place in the winter months when the house was closed. But this year it has been different. We are now open for 363 days of the year, leading to interesting debates on the effect this may have (or may not have) on the collection. So the deep clean is now being carried out whilst we are open and in front of volunteers and visitors.

As we are open longer, we have already noticed an increase in our work so trying to fit in deep cleaning can be difficult. Our Assistant House Steward always tries her best to plan days where at least one person can do the deep clean but it is the nature of heritage that things pop up.

The Dining room has taken us 5 days over a 1 month period to complete and there is a noticeable difference to the room. A lot of the plates that look like they are cream are actually an off white colour, whilst the dust on the tablecloth also made it look yellow but it is now a lovely snowy white.

Now that the Dining room is complete, it is off to start the next one – the Drawing room. This is by far one of the more complex rooms to deep clean as there is so many objects and pieces of furniture. I got to clean the Mosque lamp this morning, which matches the one in the Conservatory and were both bought during Mr and Mrs Beale’s world tour in 1906.

Cleaning the Mosque lamp in the Drawing room

Cleaning the Mosque lamp in the Drawing room

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Introducing Me ….

Hi I am Lizzie, the new Conservation and Interpretation Assistant here at Standen. I am Hannah’s successor to the role and, like her, will be here for the next year.

I have spent the last few weeks learning my way around Standen and meeting all of our lovely volunteers and staff members, all of whom have been very welcoming and friendly. It has been very busy – I am pretty sure I spent the first week in a haze of new impressions and names!

Prior to starting here, I was a Conservation intern at another National Trust property for 4 months. This introduced me to some of the routines and basic skills that are needed to help preserve historic houses. I am really excited about this role here at Standen as it gives me the opportunity to learn more about what it means to be a Conservation and Interpretation Assistant and more about the intricacies of running a historic house within the National Trust.

Like Hannah, I will be writing posts about the things that we get up to behind the scenes here at Standen and also about my experiences of the next year. I am also open to including posts written by and about our volunteers and their experiences of Standen.

Larkspur Bedroom

Larkspur Bedroom

As this is my first post, I thought that I would talk about my favourite room here at Standen – the Larkspur bedroom. Part of the reason I like it is that it is a warm, calming and comfortable room. I also like it because it feels the most alive of all the rooms in the house – I am always half expecting Amy Beale to come around the corner!

So what is your favourite room here at Standen and why?


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A new start…

…in more ways than one!

This blog is a new venture for the House Team at Standen; a way for us to stay connected with our supporters and let them know what we’re up to.

The blog also marks a new start for me, Hannah, as the property’s new trainee Conservation and Interpretation Assistant.

Working in the cellar store

Hannah at work in our cellar store, inspecting and cleaning items from our collection

My first few days at Standen were a flurry of introductions, tours and talks, as I met staff and volunteers, and was introduced to Standen and its history.

As far as country houses go, Standen is modest, but it has a small army of staff and volunteers that keep everything going, and remembering names and faces seemed an impossible task (this is why we all wear name badges!).

However, I soon found myself able to put names to faces and find my way around without too many problems – everyone was very friendly and welcoming, and that certainly helped!

I learnt all sorts of things in my first couple of weeks at Standen (there’ll be more of that later!), but one of my first lessons was the importance of having a break and putting your feet up – no, really!

Tea and cake

There’s always time for tea!

A lot of work in NT houses is very physical, and there are often days when you don’t get the chance to sit down for much longer than 20 minutes, so a tea break is one of the most important times of the day – it cannot be overstated just how vital a steady supply of tea and cake is to the smooth running of an historic house!