I have now official been working at Clumber for two months and currently am mostly focusing on getting the Deep Clean of the Chapel finished.
After all the excitement of Christmas and then my trip to Oslo I had a quiet, oh, three days to settle into everyday life at Clumber before the Chapel of St Mary the Virgin was officially closed for the Deep Clean.
We are now a third of the way through, which having just worked that out makes me feel quite good. It is quite strange leading a deep clean in a new place so soon after starting, but I am really enjoying the experience.
The Chapel is such a beautiful building and I loving getting to see it from all these different angles.
We started the deep clean by packing away all the smaller items in the Chapel so that we can start by cleaning from the top of the building (well as high as we can reach) down.
The smaller bits are wrapped up and stored safely and will be cleaned before they are put back out.
Next we started at the very top of the building, in the Bell Tower, and began working our way down through the tower to the ground. The stairs up to the Bell Tower look like the could belong in a castle, with little windows dotted about as you climb up.
The stairs spiral one way, breaking for a little corridor with a window overlooking the Nave, and the spiraling the other way up to first part of the Bell Tower.
Then up a ladder through a hole in the floor to where the bell is housed. Here there are windows with no glass in them, so a favorite place birds. This means it is very messy, and since there is no power up there has to be cleaned by hand.
There are some fantastic views across the estate from this point in the Chapel.
After that I did the Organ Loft, which was a tight squeeze for one person and a back pack hoover. This is another area of the Chapel accessed via spiral staircase, a very narrow wooden one this time. The organ surround is beautifully decorated, painted in greens and gold, and you get a fantastic view of the stained glass window on the East side of the Chapel.
A lot of the work in the Nave is done from the top of a scaffold tower, but in the Chancel it has to be done from ladders fitted in around the choir stalls. This is a little awkward but we do the best we can.
The Chancel is full of beautiful carved pieces, Angels, Saints and decoration on the choir stalls. It is one of those areas that is a real pleasure to clean because you get the opportunity to take time and appreciate the beautiful detail of all the figures, and the amazing craftsmanship that has gone into them.
Going up on the scaffold tower in the Nave is fantastic. There are stone walkways either side of the Nave that can only be accessed off the scaffold so I have enjoyed going up on these and looking out over the rest of the Chapel.
Up here are hidden a few little characters, the seven deadly sins. However I think they all look rather cute considering they are the things which can lead to eternal damnation. Just look at this little fella!
Standing on top of the scaffold tower you are still no where near the ceiling of the Chapel. To clean as high as we can we use an industrial vac and three long poles with a brush attachment on the end. It is certainly a workout for your arms!
Once we have hoovered the arches and walls of the Chapel, we work our way down and get to the elaborate ironwork lantern braces hanging in the Nave from the middle level of the tower. These are cleaned with a hogs hair paint brush, dusting them into a hoover.
The rest of the lantern is reached from a ladders, using a softer pony hair paint brush for the brass section, so as not to scratch the gleaming surface.
Spiders seem to love this Chapel and since we are cleaning places only reached once a year it has been very rewarding to get rid of the layers of dust and huge cobwebs hanging everywhere.
I want to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers that have come in to help so far, and thank you to Sleem for documenting the process so thoroughly, and then letting me steal his pictures for my blog!
While we have still got a lot of work to do before we open again on 13th March I am really enjoying myself. As long as I don't get too distracted by all the beauty and hidden details in the Chapel we should have no problem getting ready to re-open.