Textile Group: Reuse, Revise and Renew - The Care and Conservation of the Erddig State Bed

The care and conservation of the magnificent State bed at Erddig, carried out by the National Trust

Erddig is a National Trust Property near Wrexham in Wales. It houses a State bed dating from the 1720s, with beautiful bed-hangings made from Chinese embroidered silk. The tester, headboard, curtains, valances and cornices are adorned with images of trees, flowers, butterflies, birds, animals, peacocks, people and pagodas. The furnishings also hold surprises with English embroidery, Welsh quilting, and a replica valance (1906) now sitting alongside the Chinese embroidery.

Through the years the bed hangings have been altered, repaired and remade from other pieces of embroidered silk that used to furnish the rest of the room as window curtains and upholstery.

In 1968, before Erddig was in the care of the National Trust, the bed was in a very poor condition. Philip Yorke III who inherited the property in 1966 agreed to the bed going to the V&A for conservation, where Sheila Landi carried out work, saving it from complete dereliction.

However, in 2018 there were concerns about the stability of the bed textiles. Some of the previous conservation had started to fail with the original silk becoming vulnerable to loss and damage. The National Trust Textile Conservation Studio assessed its condition and trials were carried out to establish the extent and type of conservation possible.

This talk will look at the past care and conservation of this magnificent bed and the present ongoing conservation processes, challenges and successes.