Caring for Brodsworth

During 2017 we invested £1.5m and embarked on a major project to help halt the decay of this Grade I listed Victorian country house.

Brodsworth Hall came into our care in 1990, in a serious state of disrepair. In order to preserve the building's rich history we took the decision to conserve the hall instead of restoring it to its original grandeur.

Throughout the 1990s our conservators and engineers worked hard to stabilise the hall and its interiors and now we've been able to continue their work.

Conserving the statues at Brodsworth Hall

So what exactly did we do?

A team of 12 specialists set to work in 27 different rooms. This meant that 1,164 historic objects had to be moved into protected areas - this was a conservation project of epic proportions!

Our heating and electric systems were upgraded and new environmental monitors installed. The roof of the hall was repaired to keep out the rain and the Victorian revolving window shutters on the ground floor were restored to let in some daylight. Many of our textiles were deep cleaned and conserved, and all of the paintings in the house received their five yearly condition check.

Most of us won't be able to see where all of this 'behind the scenes' work was carried out but rest assured that you'll be able to enjoy Brodsworth Hall for many more years to come now that the work is complete.

Bringing the light back to Brodsworth

The Victorian revolving window shutters were the latest mod cons of the day when they were originally installed 155 years ago. They were designed to have a neat appearance which didn't interfere with internal drapes and are an incredibly rare surviving example of this Francis & Co patented design.

Over the years the mechanisms inside the shutters began to fail, leaving the majority of them permanently closed and the hall in darkness. All 24 shutters were repaired last year and a total of 144 hours was spent on each.

3974 metres of reused and newly made shutter slats, 36,000 screws, 575 metres of webbing, and 63 litres of linseed oil and linseed oil paint were used to carry out the repairs. Take a look at the video to find out more about these extensive conservation works.

How do you clean a 150 year old carpet?

For the first time since we took Brodsworth into our care, we cleaned the Drawing Room carpet which was full of damaging soot and dirt. Back in 1990 specialist carpet conservators attempted a wash treatment but were forced to stop as some of the dyes began to run, despite all the pre-wash tests.

The carpet was the most expensive furnishing purchased by the Thellusson family for their home. They paid Lapworths £367.10 in 1863 - which is over £42,000 in today's money!

It was the sheer size of the carpet, measuring ten by seven metres, and its fragile state that created such a challenge for our conservators. The team used a combination of washing techniques involving specially mixed solutions and microfibre cloths. And thankfully the clean was successful!

A painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence being hung after conservation work

Preserving our paintings

Removing the furnishings from so many rooms gave us the perfect opportunity to carry out some extra work on our significant collection of paintings. All of the paintings and their frames were carefully dusted and loose pieces of the decorative mouldings on the frames were re-adhered too. We have a 'bits box' that we use to collect and store pieces that fall off the furnishings and frames, and many of these were re-applied.

One of the most important paintings in our collection, by the renowned Sir Thomas Lawrence, was sent away for full scale restoration work. The painting dates back to 1804 and features Mrs Charles Thellusson and her son Charles, the grandmother and father of the builder of Brodsworth Hall.

Our specialist fine art conservators fixed issues with discoloured varnish, flaking paint, and a previous restoration treatment which had aged badly. Urgent repairs to the ornate gilded frame were painstakingly carried out by hand too.

We've been working hard in the garden too!

Although the hall is 'conserved as found', the decision was taken to restore our gardens back to their former glory. It was much easier to restore the outdoors at Brodsworth as the frame work of the original 1860s garden design was still evident in 1990.

During the spring of 2017 we restored our outdoor privy, which you can find by winding your way through the rose dell. Originally built for the family's convenience, the privy had lost its roof over the years and become covered by a mountain of ivy. With a bit of TLC from our garden team, this rare surviving privy is undoubtedly now the poshest outdoor toilet around!

This year we've continued our restoration work in the garden by rescuing the game larder from collapse. The larder is thought to have been built sometime between 1866 and 1870 and was used to hang game. Step inside to discover the story of shooting on the Brodsworth estate.

The privy post restoration...

  1 Privy Brodsworth Hall

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