How to care for a country house in the UK

Caring for a large country house is a massive undertaking. Brodsworth Hall in Yorkshire is one such property that is currently undergoing an impressive programme of repair work.

Prior to the First World War Brodsworth Hall employed fifteen staff to clean and maintain the house, and to look after the family; the Grant-Daltons. When the wars ended, fewer women wanted to work in service so a number of the rooms were shut off, and those that remained were cleaned less often.

Years of neglect resulted in the house becoming infested with insects, and dirt and soot had become ingrained in the ceilings, walls and carpets. Regular cleaning now ensures that the elaborate furnishings and textiles will not decline any further and that insects are kept at bay.

When cleaning the interior of Brodsworth Hall it is paramount that strong and abrasive chemicals should not be used. Most of the cleaning products available on the market today would damage many of the delicate objects on display. For example, the Italian marble statues at Brodsworth are cleaned with just a toothbrush and water!

Repairs are inevitable, but should always be subtle. To save money, in the 1970s a local funeral director was employed to repair the leather dining chairs, with disastrous results. He patched up the chairs with bandages and painted them red! Needless to say, the results were less than successful.

While work is carried out at Brodsworth English Heritage have constructed wooden hoardings to protect the marble sculptures in the Inner, South, and Entrance Halls.

Although rather out of character with the rest of the building, these hoardings will ensure that the majestic interiors at Brodsworth Hall will be preserved and will not degenerate any further.