A guest blog by Senior Conservator, Vivian Lochhead
Conservation of a Garter banner from Hatfield House in Hertfordshire has just begun in the Textile Conservation Studio. The 2nd Marquess of Salisbury was made Knight of the Garter in 1842 and the banner to mark this honour dates from c1847. The banner is similar in size and construction to military colours of the time, being made of a single layer of fine silk fabric, fringed around the edges and hand painted with various devices.
Processing of the silk fabric during manufacture to create a good white background for the design has most probably been the catalyst for deterioration of the fabric. The banner is now extremely fragile causing the silk of unpainted areas to spilt and fall away and for painted sections to stiffen and break into angular fragments. Some loss of white background silk and painted design has occurred, but many detached fragments have slipped beneath adjacent sections and will be retrieved during treatment for correct repositioning.
The banner is currently undergoing close examination and very light surface cleaning, allowing recovery of stray detached fragments and testing for further treatment options.