Video and photo gallery: Toothbrushes at the ready for annual Blickling Estate statue clean
10:58 10 June 2014
Archant Norfolk 2014
Elbow grease and plenty of toothbrushes are currently being used in a spring clean of mammoth proportions at a north Norfolk country estate.
Staff and volunteers at the National Trust-owned Blickling Estate, near Aylsham, are part-way through the annual cleaning of stone features in the grand parterre garden and surrounding area.
The 11-strong conservation team is painstakingly cleaning and inspecting about 20 stone objects including a central fountain, urns and a statue of Hercules.
Principal stonework being scrubbed up also includes a pair of bulls in front of the Jacobean house, and other statues, some of which date back to the 18th century.
Ellie Hobbs, 25, who is on the team, said: “The toughest thing is knowing when to stop. It is lovely to see them from the house in good condition.”
Miss Hobbs, a conservation and engagement assistant for the estate, said it was a bit disgusting getting rid of some of the lichen and bird mess but added it was satisfying work.
The only equipment used so far has been soft brushes, toothbrushes, warm water, sponges and a non-perfumed detergent, as well as plenty of elbow grease.
So far nine stone features have been cleaned and work is due to finish this week.
Louise Green, assistant house manager on the Blickling Estate, said: “We are not trying to get the objects back to a pristine state. We are trying to get them so they still look weathered but cared for. It is time-consuming and quite a painstaking job. It is a bit like washing up.”
The annual clean-up started in 2008 and it allows the estate team to assess damage, which can include cracks caused by frost.
“The frost damage and harsh winters are the biggest threats,” Mrs Green added.
To combat that problem the National Trust has bought £500 covers for some of the objects to protect them over the winter.
She said: “You expect to see nice statues in a historic garden. The work is really important.”
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