Brodsworth has a unique way of pointing out the problems it faces in conserving the furniture and fabrics. Rather than making you squirm with tales of nastiness they have introduced wonderful, fluffy toy models of the pests living around the house. Like this "woolly bear", for example,which represents the larva of the carpet moth. As you can see from the photo within the photo - the real thing isn't quite so cute!
Let's face it, nobody enjoys dusting but leaving it in place in a historic house is not an option. Dust is not an innocuous substance that can be easily swept away with the wipe of a cloth. In fact, if it's been in place long enough its chemical properties change and it starts to stick. Meanwhile, those chemical changes can affect the object the dust lies on, damaging the surface. Cleaning is a careful process, because rough handling can cause more damage than the dust! You can see some of the tools they use in the photo.
Most of us, particularly those in older homes, have at some point suffered the arrival of the small, grey intruder Mus domesticus - the house mouse. They cause two sorts of damage - basically one from each end. Firstly, they gnaw. They'll eat their way through anything that poses a barrier for them. Their sharp teeth will go through most things and nothing is really safe. This includes cables, so there's an increased risk of fire. The other end, of course, produces some disgusting stuff. Did you know, for example, that mice pee constantly? It's partly so they can tell where they are. When in doubt, follow the smelly trail home. But they also leave nasty little black packages. which aren't just dirty, they're corrosive.
One problem a large house faces is needing a lot of fireplaces. And a lot of fires means a lot of chimneys. But once the house starts to close down the chimneys aren't maintained and fall victim to bird nests.Then, when the nests are abandoned, the pests move in. One such is the golden spider beetle, and once it gets bored with nest material it is partial to wool, with ensuing damage to the house's carpets!
Then there's a problem you might not have expected. You might remember from the previous post that the last resident of the house, Sylvia Grant-Dalton, was fond of pets. You might also remember that we discussed the possible identity of Binkie Pippy, named on a headstone in the pet cemetery. Well, Binkie and Pippy were actually two animals, spaniels, and for a lot of their lives they were never allowed outside. So when English Heritage took over the house and began the programme of conservation they found a lot of 'evidence' of the dogs' presence. Dog urine is acidic, and there were many holes in curtains and carpets as well as extensive staining.
So, on that fragrant note, I suggest you drop by Tricky's FAST blog to see what more pleasant topics people have found this week!