At the end of June I met furniture and interiors expert Anthony Beech who came to the House to collect Nell Gwyn’s Bath. It’s a full length carved, wooden structure, (often mistaken for a fireplace) and it usually stands in the entrance hall, but since the transformation of the house began last autumn it has been safely stored inside several enormous, custom built, wooden crates.
After opening the crates, Anthony began to break it down into it’s constituent parts by removing the dowels and carefully separating the pieces. Once apart, the pieces were again wrapped up and were loaded into his van that was headed for his restoration workshop in Lincolnshire. After the first few pieces had yielded to his deft dowel removal and hammering, there was dust, dust on the floor. Was it the dust of Nell herself? Or of later inhabitants? Maybe it was dust from the house’s time as a convalescent home? Or was it more recent dust from the Park keepers? Or possibly an especially dusty Cabaret season? Anthony chipped in that it was probably a mix of everything and we could have it whisked off to the lab to be carbon dated!
Enough to know that it was probably a mix of everything and everyone who’s passed through the house in the last 430 years. This dust will be swept up, but the other dust, the forever secret hidden dust that’s in the walls and under the floor, is still there. The dust of Nell and Charles, Sir Sidney Waterlow, Mr Hunt the park-keeper who lived in the house with his family during WW2, and everyone else who’s ever been in the house, including us, we’re all still there, maybe only visible under a microscope, but we’re all in there somewhere.