The conservation of the Bullerswood Carpet

Take a behind-the-scenes look at our unique routine for conserving the enormous, hand-knotted Bullerswood Carpet, designed by William Morris.

As one of Morris & Co.'s famous 'Hammersmith' carpets – named after the location of Morris' west London home where they were first woven – the Bullerswood is one of the last carpets designed by Morris himself in about 1889. Its complex design features scrolling arabesques with stylised flowers and birds and a border with repeat motifs of leaves and flowers. Though designed for practical use and wear, the carpet's cotton warp, jute weft, and woollen pile – richly coloured with a range of natural dyes – are actually extremely fragile. Our conservators and curators have devised a unique routine for conserving the enormous 4 by 7.6 metres carpet, which must be displayed vertically, with only one half visible, and rotated periodically to prevent colour fading from exposure to light.

First, it is lowered to the gallery floor and transported by an eight-strong team of technicians to the Raphael Gallery – the only floor space in the Museum big enough to house it. Here, every inch of the carpet is vacuumed to remove dust, light damage is assessed and the fringe is combed thoroughly to remove knots and kinks.

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The Bullerswood Carpet is on display in our Britain galleries, Room 125f.

Bullerswood Carpet (detail), William Morris and John Henry Dearle, about 1889, England. Museum no. T.31-1923. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Find out more about William Morris with our book.