The staircase at Goddards House was designed by architect Walter Brierly in the Arts and Crafts style. It is wooden and has a highly decorative banister, complete with finials, which, over the one hundred years of use, has accumulated a deep layer of dirt. This grime is the consequence of various hands using the banister for support and dust settling on it. Although the dirt itself is not harming the wood or causing it to deteriorate, on hot days when the sun shines through the window the surface of the banisters becomes very sticky. This is uncomfortable for visitors to the site who touch the banisters and can attract microorganisms and small insects who may use the surface as a food source.
In my post as Conservation Assistant at Goddards I have performed some conservation cleaning on the dirtiest of the finials. I used only cotton swabs and de-ionised water and managed to take the worst of the sticky layer of grime off. The finials now look a similar colour to the rest of the decorative banister.
The entirety of the staircase displays age and use, the colour and layer of dirt currently on the banisters is part of the patina and history of the wood and house itself. Consequentially a great deal of thought must be taken when considering taking the cleaning any further.