We recently moved out of the conservation studio and into the (rather chilly) Queen’s Guard Chamber at Hampton Court where we have been busy with the next exciting stage of our project – the trial installation. Rather than close off the room to visitors, we encourage them to watch us work, ask questions and learn more about what we do.
The first thing to do was to build the freestanding frame from scratch over two days, after which specialist furniture conservators installed the tester and cornices.
It was then our turn, fixing the hanging mechanisms which will keep our valances and cloth of state securely attached to the throne canopy (see our previous blog post ‘Versatile Velcro’ for more details).
We always try to avoid over handling of our very fragile textile hangings so use replica versions, known as toiles to check the positioning and make any necessary adjustments.
We also made a toile of the cloth of state, complete with an accurately-weighted coat of arms. This was done to enable us to perfect the method of hanging this very large and fragile cloth with its multiple components. The original cloth of state has now reached a point in its conservation treatment which meant that once we were happy with the method of hanging the toile, it was safe for us to trial this method. With the coat of arms currently separated from the cloth of state, we were able to check on how the treatment has progressed, as well as ensure we attach it correctly in its final position as the cloth of state needs to hang at exactly the right height in relation to the throne and the valances above.
The visual impact of the partially installed throne canopy demonstrated very clearly what works and what doesn’t. We had a meeting with the curators and surveyors to discuss our thoughts and make decisions regarding the final installation next year at Kensington Palace.
It was also a fantastic opportunity for visitors, staff and volunteers to see the throne canopy in unique circumstances. We were able to explain our work, sharing our experiences and demonstrating the conservation carried out on elements of the coat of arms. Many thanks to all those who visited us – it was incredibly encouraging to hear people are enjoying our blog and all things throne canopy related!
We will now be taking a short break from our blog until the New Year – from all of the Furnishings team, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
By Kate Orfeur, Textile conservation supervisor, Furnishings team
Acquired with the assistance of the Art Fund. Conserved with assistance from Lord Barnby’s Foundation, Idlewild trust, The Radcliffe Trust and the Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers. We are grateful for their support.