Under Wraps for winter at Hampton Court Palace

How can we protect outdoor sculpture from winter weather? Should we use a protective winter cover, and how effective are the different types of covers available to us?

In the winter months, our outdoor marble statues are exposed to wind, rain and snow, which can cause frost damage and erosion.

So what are we doing about this? 

We used surface temperature, humidity and wetness sensors to find out how various types of cover would protect the fragile marble from water and freezing temperatures.

Results and findings

The covers were shown to be successful, so now each autumn, our conservators wrap up all our outdoor statuary for a winter sleep! This research was carried out with English Heritage, the National Trust and University College London.

Following on from this research, we also looked at winter covers for our fragile terracotta roundels at Hampton Court Palace. We sourced a high-tech aluminium honeycomb cover, which was very light yet provides a high level of insulation. This reduces the risk of damage to the roundel, or the surrounding building, in attaching the winter cover to the masonry. We printed an image of the roundel on the front of the cover, so visitors could see what was behind the box.

We used the same sensors to monitor conditions under the covers during the winter of 2005-6, and they were successful in keeping the roundels drier than without a cover. We’ll use the covers again for the next few years as a temporary measure while we complete our search for a more permanent conservation treatment.

Other agents of decay

It's a constant battle against the causes of deterioration. Read about other agents of decay. 

You can help us

Palace upkeep is expensive work and as an independent charity we receive no funding from the Government or the Crown. We depend on our visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors to help us. 

Find out how you can support us or become a volunteer.

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