IT HAS 150 years’ worth of accumulated soot and dirt, so it was always going to take more than a bottle of shampoo to clean the hand-knotted, 10-metre superfine Axminster that covers the drawing room floor at Brodsworth Hall, near Doncaster.
The carpet, decorated with Italian scrolls and flowers, was, at the equivalent of £42,000, the most expensive single item purchased by the former owners of the hall, now preserved by English Heritage as an example of an English country house in decline.
They had tried to clean it once before but the dyes began to run. Now, with the drawing room furniture removed for a £1.5m conservation project, they are doing it with microfibre cloths and a wet extraction process.
The carpet was originally brightly coloured in acid pink, yellow, turquoise and scarlet, but years of exposure to daylight have turned them rose and gold.
The cleating and restoration work is being done in full view of the public, with the site’s manager, Stacey Clarkson-Goode, calling it a “fascinating opportunity to see how carpet conservation actually takes place, and to watch as 150 years of dirt are removed”.
She added: “Our collections team is aiming to demonstrate as many of the different conservation tasks involved in caring for a property as possible.”
Brodsworth was built in the 1860s as a comfortable country house. It remained in the same family for three generations but had fallen into disrepair when in 1990 it was handed to the nation.