This week we have been putting back the Dining Room to its ambassadorial banqueting splendour.
During the winter the table is taken apart so we can clean all the elements of the display, and to check the condition of the table as the combined weight of the ormolu (gilded brass and bronze) is substantial. The table is actually a lot smaller that the one you see displayed as we are missing a number of leaves.
In order to make the table bigger and to also provide it with some much needed added strength it has a layer of airolam. This is a lightweight, but extremely robust material that allows us to leave the table set up all season and the extend the table to its required length. The table is then covered in a table cloth and two side cloths – this is the part that takes the longest as they never want to lie correctly and they move when you put the ormolu on top.
The table is laid with service à la russe, which means that the desert course was present on the table throughout the whole meal. The centre piece contains fruit from the hot houses in the Walled Garden, and an extremely valuable pineapple, which was often passed around houses as they were so rare.
In the 1830’s the room would have received only as much light as given by a single 100 watt bulb, and we aim to recreate this using modern technology. Our ‘candles’ are actually LED’s controlled by a microchip, this enables them to respond to air currents – if you blow on them they actually flicker!