Cleaned, stored and returned: soft furnishings in the Chamber

Before work began on the internal refurbishment of the Bridge Chamber, arrangements had to be made for the protection and preservation of the building’s soft furnishings.

The Courtroom curtains were carefully removed and taken away for cleaning and re-lining and our beautiful Axminster stair carpet needed to be taken up, cleaned and stored off- site.

The carpet was sent to The Rug and Carpet Studio, a specialist in textile conservation based in Suffolk. There it was carefully checked for pests before being cleaned, dried and then packaged up for storage with other items from our heritage collection.

Our carpet was in very good condition but we still needed to be on the safe side and check for any signs of carpet beetle – the most common British textile pest (even more so than moths). The beetles particularly love keratin – so materials like hair, fur, feather, silk, wool and leather are the main targets. They will happily munch holes in carpet and fabrics and the damage is often assumed to have been created by moths. They can sometimes be found in airing cupboards which provide darkness and warmth – and plenty of fabrics.

It is, in fact, the larvae of the beetles that do the most damage. These tiny creatures are covered in hair and will roll up into a small ball. In the conservation world they are referred to as ‘woolly bears’.

They are very attracted to places where they will not be disturbed, for instance seldom-used textiles that are in long term storage, and they are particularly active in the month of October, prior to hibernation.

While the adult beetles stay mostly outside and can live up to 60 days, the larvae can be active for nearly a year and like to keep snug indoors. Thankfully, regular vacuum cleaning lessens the chance of infestation.

The carpet is pictured below in its before and after condition.


Share this story