Opening up the house

Staff at Cragside are currently working around the clock to open up the house after the winter.

While the doors have been closed over the winter period, staff and an army of volunteers have been cleaning and restoring the collection to ensure the ground floor of the house is ready in time for opening for free for February half-term.

Covers over furniture at Cragside House.

Covers over furniture at Cragside House.

Delicate brushing, cleaning and dusting are all part of a meticulous and thorough routine.

One of the jobs involves the annual task of book cleaning. With more than 8,000 books on display, each individual one is opened up and brushed down to remove the dust into a specialist vacuum.

Felicity Wheeler, Cragside collections supervisor, said: “We’re tasked with the delicate care of conserving our wonderful collection, so great lengths are taken in order to get the rooms open and ready for our visitors.”

One of the rooms currently undergoing a transformation for 2014 is the Japanese room on the ground floor.

Up until now, visitors could not enter into the room, only peer through the door, and now staff are working to rearrange the room so visitors will be able to step inside.

The carpet conservation team are also soon to take the rare chenille dining room carpet away for a nine-month, £78,000 restoration project.

Due to the huge demands of conserving and cleaning, the ground floor of the house will only be open to the public during half-term, giving the staff time to put the finishing touches to the upper rooms, when it fully opens for the season on Saturday, March 1.