We’re delighted to introduce a new series of stories, told by the people here at Parham. Made up of a small team who all contribute to the magic of Parham, there are few more passionate and proud of the Elizabethan estate than Christine Harrison.
Parham Housekeeper for over 28 years, Christine is the first in our new series. During the winter months, when we close our doors, the ‘real work’ begins as Christine and the team set about restoring and thoroughly cleaning the House before putting it to bed.
“When cleaning a historic house, it’s important not to over-clean, as this can cause damage to the surfaces and furniture. The rooms are tidied and maintained with a soft sheepskin duster when the House is open to the public but the majority of the cleaning is carried out over the winter season. This reduces the risk of damage to Parham’s precious pieces.
Using Antiquax, we carefully polish every piece of furniture within the House, from chests to chairs. Any items that are delicate or fragile such as picture frames are carefully cleaned with a sheepskin brush to prevent any damage.
Unlike the furniture, Parham’s treasured tapestries are left for longer intervals due to their fragile nature. Every few years, the tapestries are taken down and carefully covered with netting before being delicately hoovered on a very low setting to remove any dust.
I just love my job. I love working here. I’ve become obsessive about chairs and everything being in its right place. I love looking out the window at the view – you don’t get that anywhere else.”
Whilst every item at Parham is important, Christine’s favourite piece of Parham is the intricate “Sailor’s Valentine” in the Long Gallery. Beautiful in both style and sentiment, the Valentine is an octagonal, glass box filled with delicate seashells. Dating back to the 19th century, the piece was created by a sailor in the West Indies who would have collected the small seashells from the beaches while at sea and brought it back for someone he loved.
Find out more about the House here.