Historic tapestry returns to Blickling Hall

Richard BatsonAn historic tapestry is hanging back on the wall of a Norfolk stately - the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle that has taken more than a decade to rebuild.Richard Batson

An historic tapestry is hanging back on the wall of a Norfolk stately - the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle that has taken more than a decade to rebuild.

Blickling Hall's 17th century Mortlake tapestries were the ultimate piece of furnishing one-upmanship in their day.

And the eight piece works charting the story of Abraham remains a major feature of the National trust's flagship visitor attraction today.

But they have been undergoing a phased restoration, which has seen them sent to Belgium to be washed, then painstakingly having their fabrics repaired nearer to home at the Trusts conservation studio at neighbour Oulton Street.


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Yesterday the final piece of restored tapestry was re-hung on the wall of the Upper Ante Room, alongside the others, by a bevy of conservators and hall staff, using scaffolding - and modern-day Velcro, which bears the weight more evenly and is less harmful than original nails.

The tapestries had degraded because of sunlight which particularly affected the dark brown wool and cream silk in the weave, said senior textile conservator Rachel Langley.

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After washing - done by specialists in Belgium using a fine mist of water and detergent - the team repaired damaged sections, including removing and mending sections that had been restored in the 1950s using glued on patches.

Some 3,000 hours of work had gone in the last, and biggest tapestry measuring 4m by 3m, called the Parting of Abraham and Lot at Bethel. There was a bad patch on the chest of Abraham which needed extensive work.

The revived tapestries, made at Mortlake in London during the late 17th century, will be on public display from today.

Tomorrow another of Blickling's tapestries will have a special visit from the Russian Embassy in London. It shows Peter the Great triumphing over the Swedish army at Poltawa, was made in St Petersburg in 1764 and given to the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, John Hobart, by Catherine the Great.

The earl rearranged the family home at Blickling to accommodate the tapestry - one of only two known to exist showing the battle scene.

Two members of the Russian Embassy will visit to mark the 300th anniversary of the battle

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