NOW THAT the house and gardens are closed we’ve been busy mending the wobbly bits and wiping the dust and cobwebs away.

I have to admit that before I started work with the National Trust here at East Riddlesden Hall I had thought very little about dirt and dust.

Yes it was unsightly and a nuisance, but nothing a bit of Pledge and a yellow duster couldn’t get rid of.

I’ve discovered however that when it comes to caring for our special places and collections that the National Trust takes dirt and dust very seriously as this, along with many other factors, contribute to the deterioration of buildings and their collections.

Dirt and dust can be very damaging to the property in many ways.

• It may seem dry but dust is actually very good at sucking up moisture and when this lands on a surface it can cause damage through chemical reactions, for example the tarnishing of metal. It also creates a haven for mould to germinate in given the right conditions.

• Dirt and dust can provide a delightful food source for all sorts of bugs and creepy crawlies which can cause harm to our objects and so cause biological damage.

• Although dust is small, it can have rough or hard edges. When these particles are removed from a surface through cleaning or dusting they can cause scratches to the surface. This means that we have to be very careful how we remove dust and dirt, and how often.

• We welcome over 37,000 visitors each year, and with each pair of shoes (however clean) a little amount of dirt will get into the house and causing abrasion of the flooring.

As well as dust and dirt, there are several other agents of deterioration that we are challenged with in historic houses - light is a major one.

Light is the worst enemy of textiles, causing irreversible fading, loss of strength and flexibility by breaking down the fibres’ structure.

It's difficult to get the right balance of light in the house. We want to let the light in to see the house’s beauty, but we need to make sure we don't speed up the deterioration of the collection and delicate textiles. In the Great Hall the 17th century tapestry is particularly vulnerable.

To combat this, we use a clear film on the window panes which provides a UV filter. We also use sun curtains to reduce the amount of hours that natural light is let into the building and this helps to reduce the level of light exposure to the collection.

Outside opening hours, and after the house is closed for the winter, a total black-out is maintained.

Our team work year round to help protect East Riddlesden Hall’s collections and building for visitors to enjoy, and are currently working hard to get the house ready for re-opening in early February.

In the meantime, we would like to wish our local communities and supporters a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.