Conservation of the Dining Room Chairs

Conservation of this collection was kindly supported by The Heritage Council’s 2016 Heritage management Grant Scheme. This collection of beautiful 19th-century chairs has been in the Ardgillan Castle since it was opened as a heritage attraction in 1992. Due to age and misuse, the chairs were left in a state of disrepair. The collection includes 12 chairs, in the same style. These chairs, which are now on display in a complete set, make a very impressive display. The Heritage Council supports conservation work on collections through their grant schemes and in 2016 Ardgillan was lucky enough to be awarded a grant to complete this work. Below is a brief outline of the work that was undertaken by John Harte, Furniture Conservator. In order to complete the work, the chairs that were damaged were removed from display and the work was carried out off-site in a workshop.

  • Initially, the chairs were wiped down with a clean dry cloth to remove dust.
  • They were then cleaned using cold water. This allowed any residue on the chairs to be removed.
  • They were then evaluated and prioritised with the leather that was not ripped left intact.
  • The leather was then sourced from a supplier in England. The goatskin was sourced to match with the original leather.
  • The ripped leather was removed from the chair seats and backs were necessary. A small sample was left on each chair for future reference.
  • The leather was stretched across the area and cur to size. The leather is quite flexible in areas and so can be stretched into place.
  • It was smoothed down by hand and finished with a tight seal so that there would be no sagging.
  • The leather was then tacked into place finishing with the original tacks. These tacks had been covered in leather and were reused when the chairs were being finished.
  • The chairs that did not need recovering were cleaned and dusted.
  • The wooden legs were cleaned removed and residue of cleaning products that had been built up over time. The chairs were then wiped down with a clean dry cloth.
  • The full collection of 12 chairs are now on display at Ardgillan Castle.

This wonderful collection is now on display as a complete set for the first time in over a decade. The chairs make a stunning feature on our castle tour and add to the narrative of the house. Ardgillan Castle acknowledges and thanks the Heritage Council for their generous grant without which the work would not have been completed.