The Cleaning, Restoration and Conservation of Oriental Rugs, Carpets and Handmade Textiles.
Bowood House is a grade I listed Georgian country house with interiors by Robert Adam and a garden designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown. It is halfway between Calne and Chippenham in Wiltshire, England and the ancestral home to the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne and their family. In April 2014, Lord and Lady Lansdowne of Bowood House contacted Marlborough Rug Company with a brief to carry out specialist cleaning, repair and restoration work on numerous oriental rugs, carpets and textiles. We initially visited the house to assess and photograph many of the rugs and discuss the level of conservation that was required, in order that we could prepare a programme of works and the costs involved.
The following picture diary will show in detail the progress of each of the rugs and the work we carried out, illustrating the condition of the rugs before and after our expert restorers had worked their very skilled magic. Please have a browse through our work and whether you have your own country home full of rugs needing some TLC or something more modest, we would love the opportunity to bring our restoration and cleaning skills to revive your cherished rug or rugs.
The first rug we worked on was a very unique rug, commissioned by the Lansdowne family and hand woven with their family crest on. It had been used by an entrance door and had suffered continual wear over many years as people came in and out via that door.
These photographs show the damage to the rug before and then after we had cleaned and repaired it.
Damage to the whole side cord, bottom corner & top edge. This needed cutting in Close up showing some of the damage
places, rebuilding and the side binding over sewn by hand, all in matching colour in more detail
The rug has had a full immersion wash and all damage has been repaired & the edges of the rug strengthened and saved
from further deterioration. The picture (above right) shows in close detail, a small section where the pile was rebuilt and
rewoven in a matching colour wool.
The next rug we worked on was a very long hall runner, over 20 foot long. This rug is a hand knotted antique Persian rug, over 100 years old, therefore we needed to wash it carefully and repair it sympathetically using reclaimed antique wool from our large stock of rug wools.
This rug was very dusty and had not been cleaned for many years. The restoration involved rebinding both side cords at
over 20 feet each side, in order to strengthen and prevent further fraying. The runner had a split of about 40 - 50cm long
(above right) requiring repair by rebuilding the cotton foundation and reweaving the pile with antique wools to mirror the
original wools texture and match very intricate design and colours. We also repaired, neatened and secured the fringe at
one end. (See the result in the after pictures below)
These picture show the rugs colours looking revived and the wool clean and softened (you'll have to take our word for the
feel of it!) However the most amazing after shot is the invisible split repair, there is now no trace it was ever there. The
rug is strong again, the side cords repaired and a newly reinstated fringe finishes the restoration of this very pretty
After the hallway, we turned our attention to the private dining room carpet. This carpet was huge, approximately 21 feet long by over 18 feet wide. After some research we are fairly sure this carpet was woven in England about 150 years ago, probably commissioned especially for the house. There is an even larger sister carpet in another room, that's a lot of weaving!
As well as a thorough wash, this carpet was a big challenge as there were numerous areas requiring either some level of repairs or complete restoration. However before we started, in order to take it up, we needed to cut it away from the sisal flooring it had been stitched down to for the past 20+ years!
Above, in situ before we removed the carpet. Below, the carpet folded and rolled up into a neat bundle ready for our
workshop. Below right, shows the most damaged area where a section had completely torn away from the rest of the carpet.
Above left, the client asked us to leave the hole in the centre of the rug and to bind around its edges to secure the pile in
place as it sits above a plug in occasional use. Right, a hole with an old running repair that needed restoring.
Various repairs required - a missing chunk to replace, worn away side cords, a hole caused by a previous bodged repair
and two separate corners that needed complete restoration and re weaving.
Above left, the detached corner was reattached by replacing the foundation threads first and then reweaving new wool
onto the new foundation base to form the joins whilst making sure the design flowed as flawlessly as possible. It was quite
tricky as the carpet was very worn and we needed to maintain this aged appearance in order to stay true to the rest of the
carpet. Above right, the hole and old repair shown above, restored and re-piled. The two pictures left and right below,
illustrate some of the worst damage; we have rebuilt and rewoven sections but as before tried to keep the pile low and
'worn' looking to blend in with the existing level of wear.
Above left, newly repaired and rebound side cord. Below left, packed and ready to be returned to Bowood. Below right,
cleaned and restored and re-laid back in the Dining Room and restitched to the sisal flooring underneath to prevent a trip
hazard and from moving.
Following the success of the Dining Room restoration, we started work on the Drawing Room carpet, a Savonnerie Design carpet, made in England over 100 years ago and a fairly rare example. This one was even bigger and heavier than the Dining Room carpet at just over 21 feet square. It took 4 men to pack it up, load it onto and steer a flatbed trolley in order to transport it to our vehicle ready for the journey to our workshop.
Above, in situ before we removed it for cleaning and repair work. Below left, numerous holes, thin worn parts and broken
side cords. Below right, broken and very worn sid cords and a missing section of the rug. All of this damage required
rebuilding, reweaving and rebinding to effect a solid and lasting restoration.
The carpet was successfully re-laid and looked stunning and so clean.
The corner restoration of the holes, wear and the side cord, The side cords missing section has been rebuilt and re-woven.
all renewed and strengthened but done sypathetically to A virtually invisible repair! We also rebound a 2-3 foot section
blend with the age of the carpet. of the side cord each side of the corner in matching colour
All furniture replaced, it's like it was never away, except for the stunning revived colours and restoration ready to face
the next 100 years!
Next on the to do list was this Aubusson Design Needlepoint Carpet. This type of rug is woven a bit like a tapestry, with a flat woven surface, not a pile. This rug had been residing in a damp store room for a while and had succumbed to water damage and damp causing colour run, some rotting fibres resulting in holes and a rotten cotton backing fabric.
The mid section had rotted and the colours bled badly. There was some reweaving to be done and there
were also various areas that were very grubby and water marked
We washed the rug, removing over 95% of the water marks. We used specialist techniques to reverse the colour run, having to cut out some of the rotted threads and reweave with new wool, matching the design. We also repaired the wear to the face of one panel and the edge of the rug by weaving in new wool and we also replaced the backing with a brand new cotton fabric backing cloth.
See above, the extent to which the colour run has been reversed and the rotted wool replaced and rewoven with new
threads to match the existing colours and design
Our very own quality controller casts a discerning doggie eye over the finished restoration work to the Needlepoint before
return to Bowood
The last rug on this current project from Bowood was this large Turkish Oushak Carpet. In storage for
some years, this carpet needed deep cleaning to address a number of black stains. There were also
numerous holes in the pile that we have rebuilt and rewoven. We needed to match the colours whilst
aiming to get the aged 'antique' look the rug already had via natural wear so that our repairs didn't stand
out as too new. See the before and after photographs below to see the huge transformation of a very
old and worn rug.
Before Cleaning After Cleaning
Some of the holes that required complete restoration.
Close up showing all repaired holes and stains removed Detail of fringe damage at one end
First fringe, before and after repairing and resecuring to stop the rug pile from continuing to fray and shed.
Second fringe, before and after repairing and resecuring to stop the rug pile from continuing to fray and shed.