Keeping on top of cleaning regimes in churches is never easy, however many dedicated people are involved. Like many churches, Levens Methodist Church combines historic interiors and objects with active community use, so an efficient but protective conservation cleaning regime is particularly important.
At Levens, the main focus for us was cleaning the original coloured glass leaded lights, and the carved communion table, chairs and side tables. The glass was cleaned pane by pane using a very small amount of distilled water. The building suffers from humidity problems which had made the dust really sticky in places.
Perhaps the most gratifying job was removing it from the beautifully carved communion table and seeing the sharpness of the original carving reappear. How satisfying it was to remove awkward high level dust and cobwebs from walls and ceilings - although perhaps the spiders were less happy about it than the congregation! This means there will be less dust circulating in the space, making day to day cleaning much easier.
Churches tend to come with candles, so there was quite a lot of wax removal from polished surfaces to be done, too. It was also strangely enjoyable to see old build ups of spider droppings gradually coming off - a bit of history that we decided did not need to be kept.
We are still working on this as an ongoing project and have provided notes on the space to ensure that everyone in the congregation can take a hand in looking after their building and its contents in the best possible way.
The pictures below show the project at various stages. Please see the captions at the bottom of this page for further detail, or have a look at our blog.
Main header image: detail of 19th century coloured glass windows post cleaning
From top: cleaning the 19th century glass windows pane by pane; window detail before cleaning; window detail after cleaning; cleaning a chair by Kendal manufacturer; lifting off high level cobwebs from around the fragile glass roundel window; cleaning another Kendal-made artefact; detail of sticky dust deposits in the crevices of the carved communion table; detail of the carved communion table after cleaning; using a cruved plate brush to remove dust and dirt from the panelling; after a Hog & Fitch clean, with all the detail looking much crisper and old candle wax deposits removed; congregation members examining the community-made banner prior to cleaning
All photos by Hog & Fitch, reproduced courtesy of Levens Methodist Church