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Forde Abbey gets spring clean
6:00am Saturday 23rd March 2013 in What's On
THE historic Forde Abbey is nearly ready to welcome visitors for the new season after months of work.
The former Cistercian Monastery near Winsham opens to the public again at Easter and two dedicated members of staff have been sweeping, dusting, vacuuming and polishing every nook and cranny of the building since it closed last October.
One of the trickiest operations has been taking down the impressive brass chandelier, a 16th century Dutch Light, that hangs in the centre of the Great Hall and painstakingly polishing the exquisite brass fittings to a glowing shine. Reinstated in pride of place, it has now been fitted with new candles ready to light on special occasions.
The Grand Staircase, built by Sir Edmund Prideaux in 1658 with a fashionable Spandrel Balustrade, has been scrupulously polished, along with the 21ft long oak refectory table and other fine furniture in the lavish State Rooms.
The world famous Mortlake Tapestries adorning the walls in The Saloon have been deftly dusted and vacuumed, using a fine gauze over the vacuum cleaner head to pick up any insect eggs which may be lurking.
The tapestries, woven from the cartoons painted by Raphael now on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum, have hung at Forde Abbey for 300 years.
Forde Abbey owner Alice Kennard said: “Getting a house of this size and scale in tip top condition for visitors is a huge operation.
“It’s all hands on deck and loads of elbow grease for several months until we are finally satisfied with the results.
“We do have to take extreme care as there is much precious antique furniture here, many delicate fabrics on the beds, and some extremely valuable ceramics, but it all looks wonderful when it is gleaming again.”
The house reopens on Tuesday, March 26, from 12noon to 4pm and will be closed on Mondays and Saturdays.
The gardens are always striking in March and April with wide expanses to explore and on Sunday, March 31, and Monday, April 1, a children’s Easter egg hunt will be held.
More details about Forde Abbey can be found at www.fordeabbey.co.uk