Wordsworth House and Garden may be closed for the winter, but behind the Grade I listed walls and lime-washed façade, the work continues.
Almost as soon as poet William’s childhood home shut at the end of October, the housekeeping team began packing small and fragile items in tissue, swathing larger ones in bespoke dust covers, and rolling rugs onto lengths of drainpipe to let the fibres relax.
House steward Rachel Painter says: “The house has a very different feel without the bustle and noise of visitors and a full staff and volunteer team. It’s still and quiet and I’m much more aware of the creaks and groans associated with an old building.
“I enjoy this period and the opportunity to get some things done which aren’t possible at other times. It’s like carrying out a giant stock take of the house and the collection.
“The dressing up clothes are sorted for repairs, the beds are stripped and the blankets put in the freezer to kill any potential bugs, and tissue hats made for smaller items like candlesticks. The worst job has to be scrubbing the blackened pots the costumed servants use for cooking over the open fire.”
Out in the award-winning garden, head gardener Amanda Thackeray and her volunteers are just as busy.
She explains: “We have lots of heritage apple trees, and this is the ideal time to prune them to control their shape and encourage next year’s crop. Bubble wrap becomes a real ally – we put it round plant pots as, just like us humans, they like an extra blanket in winter.
“We’re also cutting down our tall herbaceous perennials, but where we can, we leave parts of the garden uncleared to act as a snug winter home for beneficial insects.”