Monday, 19 January 2015

Blenheim Palace New Year Deep Clean

Visitor Services Assistant Reza Kazemi
with Clare Sheridan’s bust of Winston
Churchill which she sculpted in 1942
For many home-owners New Year is the perfect time to make a start on some serious house-cleaning.

However when the ‘house’ in question is World Heritage Site Blenheim Palace and the contents includes priceless works of art and unique historical items a little more scientific approach is required.

A team of Blenheim Palace Cleaners are hard at work on a pre-season ‘deep clean’ of both the Palace itself and its entire collection which includes unique items belonging to Sir Winston Churchill who was born at Blenheim.

Visitor Services Assistant Reza Kazemi
uses a specialist museum vacuum cleaner
on Churchill’s famous siren suit
The cleaning process takes six weeks with a team of up to 10 people working daily.

Blenheim Palace’s Kate Ballenger said: “Each room is carefully stripped of all the furniture and artefacts and is vacuumed from the ceiling to the floor.

“The floors are then cleaned and polished. Whilst this is occurring, our specialist cleaning team carefully clean each item, before it is returned to the room.

“We use a variety of tools from museum vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters to natural bristle brushes such as hogs’ hair or pony hair, depending on the object we are cleaning.

“Polishes are kept to a minimum, as they can build up over time and we do not use aerosol sprays. Stubborn dirt is removed by distilled water,” she added.

Among the items undergoing cleaning is one of Churchill’s iconic zipped one-piece siren suits which became forever linked to the great man during WWII. Churchill had them specially-made by his Jermyn Street tailors Turnbull & Asser and dubbed them his ‘romper’ suits.

A comfortable one-piece zipped garment – the siren suit could be quickly put on over other clothing in case of air-raids. It was so popular with Churchill he had a number made in different materials including wool, pinstripe and velvet – like this one.

The famous bust of Sir Winston Churchill created by his first cousin sculptor and writer Clare Sheridan in 1942 is also undergoing a thorough clean in readiness for a newly-created Churchill exhibition which is set to open at Blenheim Palace on February 14th.

The exhibition is part of a major celebration of the great man’s achievements to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his death.

Other new features to mark the anniversary include a ‘Walk in Churchill’s Footsteps’ family trail and a Churchill Memorial Garden, designed by award-winning garden designer Kim Wilkie.

Specific items being cleaned include:

- 40 busts and sculptures
- 28 Marble tables

- 10,000 books
- 18 clocks
- 38 pieces of armour
- 200 pieces of porcelain